Tuesday, September 20, 2011


We put up an initial review of Drive about a month ago by a SW friend. Since then I was able to attend the movie. Refn's film, like his others, centers on emotionality, metaphor, and masculinity. I was thinking this film would alienate me since it seemed like Refn purposely moved to film production in England with his Bronson (2008) as to get the ears of Hollywood. Making an amazing piece of cinema with Bronson only as a means to become a millionaire filmmaker in America. My delusional analysis sometimes yields falsities and with Drive, this was the case.

Seemingly coming off as an addition to the Fast and the Furious franchise from the poster or trailer, the film is actually a more subtle variant of Refn's other films. With Refn's Pusher Trilogy, Bronson and Valhalla Rising, masculinity comes to the fore. Male directors, I would say a majority of them in Hollywood like Kubrick to Tarantino, obviously are over-obsessed with masculinity, and even though I have no definitive proof of this, a lot of the male producers who make Hollywood films probably get off on these director's manly meditations. Yet, with Drive and Refn's other works, the masculinity is not glamorized, rather it is contrasted with and destroys the character's hopes, dreams, and social interactions. These usually yield a dialectic that can be symbolized in an amazing scene in Drive, in which the protagonist grabs in his love interest for a kiss in slow motion -- the lights fading in a non-motivational and surreal manner -- and then abruptly, after the long slow motion kiss, he attacks a man in the elevator who the protagonist had already known was trying to kill them both. The violence that results is extreme, too much, and it is then suggested that the main character is like the scorpion that adorns the back of his jacket. That masculinity can have two sides and Refn points out that there are some extreme issues with the concept.

The film also evokes Le Samourai in the sense the main character barely speaks any dialogue. Every aspect of his personality is generally projected onto him by the characters around him or put on him by the audience. The film, seemingly about a stunt car driver involved in an underworld crime plot, like in Refn's Pusher Trilogy is not about a stunt car driver involved in an underworld crime plot. Rather, each character is metaphorical; the conflicts from the characters keep the story going, and all the characters are moving in a direction toward the climax.

Are there car chases? Not many, but there is one which evokes Hitchcock in the beginning and one which evokes Bullitt toward the end. For a film called Drive, most of the driving isn't action packed - the car, like all the characters, is just a metaphor for several things, and you'll have to go out and see this film to figure it out.

This, as the end of the year draws near, might be one of the better cinematic outputs from America for 2011. This film's PR campaign has been ridiculous, so I hope you're just reading this after seeing the film and would like to comment or critique some of the things I brought up. Yet, if for some reason you haven't heard of this film and only now are hearing about it, I would suggest to go see it. In many ways, it's a good introduction to Refn's work and I would highly suggest obtaining Bronson to have a double feature to watch after the film, as in my opinion Bronson constitutes a better film. But in terms of the nightmares you will hear about non-American directors coming to Hollywood, Drive breaks the mold.


1 comment:

  1. I agree entirely and have encouraged others, regardless of them enjoying action films or not. I thought it was a truly beautiful film with some unique cinematography and a lead character who will be remembered with the likes of Travis Bickle and, like you mentioned, Costello from Le Samourai.