I sat in the theater, long after the credits had ended, long after several pubescent theater workers grumbled while shuffling around me. I had never been so shocked into silence after watching a film. I remained thoughtful and quiet walking out of the theater and to the car and throughout the car ride home (much to the worry of my boyfriend who was with me). Okay, I wasn’t completely silent. Right after the film ended I looked at my boyfriend and said, “Holy shit,” but that was it.
Drive is the kind of film that doesn’t come around often. It’s a film that reminds you of the potential artfulness of filmmaking. Actually, it’s a film that reminds you that humans are capable of making things that are so incredibly beautiful that they seem to transcend the physical space that they inhabit. As cheesy as it sounds, I left that theater with a renewed hope in the creative powers of man, and I don’t mean that as hyperbole. I don’t have a single negative thing to say about this film—and I can’t recall any other time in my life-long career as film critic (and critic of all things, in general) that I’ve uttered such a phrase.
This film was exceptional. The acting, writing, editing, cinematography, music, pacing—everything—was impeccable. That’s not to say it was safe. As Guillermo del Toro said of the film at Comic-Con, this is balls-to-the-wall filmmaking. It’s gutsy and experimental in the way it’s put together, and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s rare to see something so fresh and new that actually works as a harmonious whole.
I now have an enormous amount of respect for Nicolas Winding Refn, who rightfully claimed best director at Cannes for the film, and also for Ryan Gosling (turns out he’s a total badass—could’ve fooled me). In fact, as I learned at a Comic-Con panel, it was Gosling who had the rights to the book Drive is based on, and it was Gosling who sought out Refn to be the director. After a horrible first meeting over lunch, the two bonded through an REO Speedwagon song in Gosling’s car and realized they shared the same vision for the film, as Refn broke down into sobs and they discussed their vision of a character who cannot feel real emotion unless he’s driving (and listening to ’80s pop). Crazy, right? The stuff of fairy tales.
At Comic-Con, I was stunned by the footage that was shown, and I was equally stunned by Guillermo del Toro’s gushing over Refn, but being the cynic that I am, I worried that they had showed us the best scenes. How could every scene in the film live up to the scenes that they had shown us? Oh, my friends, how wrong I was. The scenes shown at Comic-Con were even better in the context of the film, and those scenes were not the exception to the rule. Every scene was phenomenal.
For those of you who were fooled by the marketing ploy and believe this to be Fast and Furious 6, it’s not. In fact, I heard many disappointed movie-goers leave the theater with complaints: “That was so slow and boring” and “That did not have enough action.” Yeah, I’m sorry you guys were tricked into seeing a brilliant film.