Damn. Drive is so badass.
After college I was living in a suburb of Los Angeles, and worked as a freelance video editor. I got a gig that had me working on a contract four days a week, and the hours were sweet – I had to be there by 8am, but I was always out of there between 3-4pm. Initially I used this to freedom of time to work on side projects, make my girlfriend dinner, or meet up with friends. However, living in L.A., and being a filmmaker, I started to attend screenings of upcoming films at local venues, and managed to get on almost every list for early screenings possible. Within a few weeks I realized that I could attend a film screening 5-6 times a week.
And I started to do just that.
I was willing to see anything. I saw Thor early in IMAX. I saw Horrible Bosses a month prior to it’s release. I even saw the rough cut of a terrible movie, Texas Killing Fields, almost a full year before it’s release, with missing visual effects, audio, and music. I remember getting to the end of the year and realizing that I had seen over 200 movies in theaters that year. It was kind of ridiculous, but awesome all the same.
When it comes to these screenings, most of the time you know what film you’ll be seeing. Occasionally though, I would get an invite to a nameless film, often offering a free movie ticket to bring people in blindly. That was the case when I saw Drive. The invite will offer clues, such as the director, similar films, or maybe even a star. Having done some IMDB sleuthing, I knew I was likely going to be seeing Drive, but was still pumped when we walked in and were told that yes, this was what we would be seeing tonight.
And it blew me away.
From the opening moments of the film, I knew I was in love. The unique filmmaking was instantly present – cinematography, music, 80s-inspired pink fonts. The style of Drive is so unique, and was unlike anything I’d seen before. I had heard from it’s festival run that Drive was incredible, but none of that hype did any justice to how much I loved it.
If you’ve never seen Drive, you’re really missing out. The film follows a nameless driver (played by Ryan Gosling), who is a stuntman by day, and getaway driver by night. He’s soon entangled with Carey Mulligan’s character, his neighbor Irene, after he offers to help bail her newly paroled husband out of some debt. Naturally everything is more complicated than it appears on the surface, and a web of violence ensues. And I mean violent. One of the greatest aspects of the film is it’s ability to balance slick driving sequences and quiet, intimate character development with pockets of brutal violence. People are beat with hammers, stabbed, stomped to death, and more. It has some of the most violent scenes I’ve seen on film, shot in an incredibly poetic fashion.
The soundtrack and score are also phenomenal. Deep synth tones push the film forward, and lightweight electronic pop help keep the 80s undertones alive.
Outside of the style of the film, it also features a stellar cast. Gosling and Mulligan push the film as the leads, but supporting roles are insanely good. Bryan Cranston, Oscas Issac, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, and Christina Hendricks all knock it out of the park in their respective roles. Ron Perlman especially soars as a sleazy, sweat-suit wearing mobster.
The only bad part about Drive was the fashion in which I saw it. At a screening you often sign an NDA, meaning you’re not allowed to talk about the film until after certain date, usually the film’s release. Normally though, you’re allowed to say you at least saw a certain film. In this case we weren’t even allowed to mention what film we had seen. Drive ended up as my favorite flick for that year, and I couldn’t even sing its praises to help boost its hype. I’m not sure why the studio didn’t want that happen, but I know everyone walked out of my screening completely floored by the film.
If you’ve never seen Drive, change that. It’s streaming on Netflix, or pick up the blu-ray for under $13 on Amazon. The creative filmmaking is worth it alone, but the style that oozes from it will lock it in your memory. And I didn’t even mention the badass scorpion jacket that Gosling wears.
Watch it or I’ll stomp you out.