As a Rolling Stone subscriber and film fanatic, I put a lot of trust in the professional opinion of Peter Travers. So when he placed Drive at the top of his end o’ the year list of 2011’s best films, I took notice. While it may not be an instant classic, Drive is a thrill ride piece of neo-noir that may have upended Taken as the greatest film to come from the revenge-thriller subgenre in years. Played by Ryan Gosling, Driver is a mysterious, quiet man. During the day, he drives as a stunt man for his buddy Shannon (a fantastic Bryan Cranston) but at night he works his magic outrunning the law as a getaway man. When he helps out his neighbor Standard (Oscar Isaac) with a bank job that goes awry, Driver (Ryan Gosling) finds himself wanted by those men he thought were allies. He plotsrevenge when he discovers his neighbor’s wife Irene (Carey Mulligan)—who he’d taken a liking to—and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos) are in danger. In this neo-noir film, Driver will be lucky if anyone ends up alive.
For a movie called Drive about a stunt driver and getaway man, I was expecting more…well…driving. Drive’s one adrenaline-filled chase scene is great, which made me anxious for more. Otherwise, the plot is remarkably clean and understandable, much darker than I imagined, and the ending was as suspenseful as anything I saw from 2011. As a fan of neo-noir (but Aronofsky’s work in particular), I found Drive highly entertaining.
But did John Hughes pick this soundtrack? And for that matter, who decided that the opening credits should look like they were written in pink lipstick? Talk about an identity crisis. A feminine indie rock group or an operatic chorus will begin to sing shortly after Driver smashes someone’s face in with a hammer. Is it meant to throw us all off? Well, it does.
The chemistry between Gosling and Mulligan is delightful and endearing, but it’s the relationship between Gosling and Leos that makes you shed a tear of joy. Like a new father, Driver cares about the boy with a big heart—but when Benicio is threatened, Driver has a short fuse. Albert Brooks is solid in his supporting role, but it baffles me to think he got a Golden Globe and Oscar talk. Cranston—in a much better role than 2011’s Larry Crowne—deserved more hype than Brooks. And Carey Mulligan as the girl next door is brilliant and their fling (almost leading to an affair) is adorable despite its sketchy morals.
Drive packs quite a punch, and it definitely makes my 2011 top ten list, but I can’t give it number one. What did you think of Drive? Best movie of the year? Thanks for reading and make sure to subscribe to email updates at the bottom of your screen!