When you do something enough you find out what you’re good at, what you’re bad at, what you find difficult and what you find easy in regards to that something. Take for instance, writing a movie review. I’ve found that generally it’s rather easy to write a review for a bad movie, it’s fun to rip it a part. There’s those movies in the middle of good and bad that can be a little more difficult at times because you find you have to nitpick, but the true difficulty comes when you find you have to review a truly incredible film that you’d consider a gift to cinema. You find yourself wondering if you’ve given it enough respect and fully established why the film is as good as it is. This is a very difficult review to write because Drive isn’t just the best movie of the year so far, it’s one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen.
Where do we begin? The music? Not yet, we’ll get to that. The direction? We’ll save the best for last. The acting? Maybe in a bit. The writing? We’ll get to that soon. The violence? That will certainly be talked about. How about the characters? The mood? The setting? The subtleties? The action? The art? How about we just start with a bit of a plot summary? That works. Drive is a film about a man who drives for movies, but moonlights as a getaway driver. He becomes close with a beautiful woman and her son. When he finds they may be in danger, he stops at nothing to see to their safety.
Obviously I’m keeping a lot of key plot points out so that you can discover them for yourself, but yes the plot and story aren’t very complex nor is the writing. I for one don’t like to be spoon fed information and in Drive you find some of the greatest examples of showing and not telling. Every single piece of story that needs to be told is told, no more no less. Every single aspect of the movie is well thought out, fascinating, and put together seamlessly, making for the magnificent movie that it truly is.
In Drive you’ll find fabulous actors playing relentlessly interesting characters with depth and feeling. There is not an intense, dramatic or loving moment that doesn’t work because the moments are never forced, they’re honest. Ryan Gosling is fantastic as the hero for his time and place, Albert Brooks is amazing as the conflicted villain, with Ron Perlman as the brutish partner, it’s ridiculous how brilliant Bryan Cranston is in “Breaking Bad” and to see him acting here in a completely different part just makes you want to smile, and Carey Mulligan is equally as enticing as the pure and innocent female lead.
This is the work of a truly master director, Nicolas Winding Refn, who defines his direction from the moment the film begins and keeps it constant through out. He cares about his characters, he cares about the story he’s telling, he cares about every single detail, at the end of the day it’s clear to see that the man doesn’t care about the paycheck, he cares about his movie and it shows. Subtly, with a direction that is cool and calculated, Refn blends and balances the worlds of beautiful art and pure entertainment and the only way you can describe it is perfection.
Every supreme brush stroke that makes for the beauty that is Drive was slaved over and created to be savored. Whether you’re taking in the uniquely timed and surprisingly fitting music, the raw and honest violence that’s some how done tastefully even though it’s some of the most grotesque violence ever placed in an artistic film such as this, the specifically chosen and delectable shots, the palpable and real relationships between the compelling characters, or any number of the many aspects that make this a brilliant film because that’s just a few, than you’re simply taking in one part of the extraordinary big picture that is Drive, a film that is, by all definitions of the word, a masterpiece.