Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Drive Is Far Overrated
** out of ****
Drive might as well be titled "Ryan Gosling stares moonily." That action takes up 85% of the film. Gosling plays a no-name character with no personality. He could be a modern day stand-in for Travis Bickle, except for the fact that the movie is absolutely in love with him. While Taxi Driver realized the irony of its pro-antagonist's glorification, Drive unabashedly glorifies its own.
Gosling plays a stunt-driver by day, criminal driver by night because...
He decides to help out a Plain Jane housewife because...
There is really no reason for anything that happens in this movie, and everything that does has already happened in better films. There are only two "car chases" to speak of, and they are both over before you can blink--one car is wrecked. Gosling kicks a bunch of nameless gangsters faces in. Maybe this movie should just be called Beat. Even on the most basic levels, not much in the film makes sense:
Gosling's jacket is ridiculous, and anyone who saw him on the street would undoubtedly give him a hard time about it, or at the least, easily be able to identify him in a lineup as "that guy with the goofy jacket." Carey Mulligan's Pentecostal skirt-wearer would never be caught between the two glamorously shady central-male characters, or so my wife says, and since she is one of the few women to have undergone this tedious cinematic experience, I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Oh, did I just say tedious? You know what you can do if there isn't much to your movie? Hold out shots of your characters faces for minutes at a time where nothing happens. Not only do real life people generally not just stare at each other, but people staring at each other is generally not very exciting to watch. Don't paint my accusations as being those of taste. Antonioni's The Passenger is one of my favorite films, and no one neglected to cut film more than that guy. His long takes actually meant something, though. The ones in Drive are just there to kill time, and to create a faux atmosphere of artistry.
Well guess what? "Faux" might as well be "real" in this day and age because this film appeared on dozens of well-regarded critic's recently-released top ten of 2011 lists. All of them are absolutely wrong. Style over substance is one thing, recycled style is another. Don't waste your time.
2011 Bold Films
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan
Screenplay: Hossein Amini
Based on the novel Drive by James Sallis