Movie review: Drive (2011)


I'm not even going to pretend I'm good at reviewing movies. I'm so not, which is why I don't do them. But I feel compelled to talk about Drive, because I loved this movie that much. I saw it last Sunday, and four days later, I'm still thinking about it.

Quick premise: Ryan Gosling (of The Notebook fame) is a Hollywood stunt driver by day and getaway car driver by night who finds himself drawn to his lonely neighbor, Irene (played by Carey Mulligan), and her young son. When Irene's husband gets out of prison, "Driver" finds himself getting caught up in the ex-con's problems with the mob, and in trying to help keep Irene and her son safe, things go very, very wrong.

We never do learn Driver's real name, or where he's from. But somehow that doesn't matter, because his character is just so present. It doesn't matter where he's going. It doesn't matter what he wants. You just know that you don't want to miss a single second of what he's doing right now.

It's been a long time since I watched a movie where I couldn't take my eyes off the lead character, and it's not just because Gosling is beautiful (which he is). He doesn't even talk that much. He doesn't have to, because there's so much said in the way he moves, his facial expressions, his eyes.

Ryan Gosling, you nailed it. You slayed me just by the way you stood there, breathing.


The movie is visceral, tender, violent, and emotional. There was a lot of blood, but it never felt gratuitous. The story unfolded at the perfect pace, never feeling slow, never feeling rushed. There were moments when I didn't dare breathe. I never knew what was going to happen next – nothing about this movie was predictable, and more than a few times I was shocked. Never have I rooted so hard for a character I knew almost nothing about.

Drive was artfully shot. It had an 80's noir feel, and while some folks have complained about the strange soundtrack (all songs I'd never heard before), I didn't mind it. I was already jarred the whole way through – for me, the music only added to this effect.

And oh yeah, I loved that Scorpion jacket.

I came home after the movie and sat for awhile, needing to digest it. I had a ten-minute pity party where I felt sorry for myself because I knew there was no way I'd ever be able write a story as compelling and brutal as Drive, or a character as intoxicating and complex as Driver.

But then I snapped out of it and thought, "Hell with that. One day I will. At least I now know what I'm gunning for."

Go see Drive. Seriously. It's brilliant.

(For a more in-depth take on this film, check out my friend Ben's review at Dead End Follies.)

What have you watched lately?

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