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Drive (2011) - SPOILER ALERT! 
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Post Re: Drive (2011) - SPOILER ALERT!
I thought it was a great film when it came out and I still feel that way. It's flawed, certainly, and I can see and don't totally disagree with some of the slights against it brought up here.

There was a lot of debate about this when it was new, but one thing that I brought up a lot hasn't been brought up here: The Driver at the very least displays a lot of minorly autistic qualities and habits. His sense of right and wrong, his speech patterns, his drastic shifting of mood, his tactical precision at times and his total lack of planning at times all point to this. I don't think the film is about that, but I think it's crucial to understanding how he acts and the choices he makes, good or bad.

I totally agree with MGames that violence is all about tone, and I don't like films full of hatred. I don't see that here, but I can understand why some might.


Thu Apr 18, 2013 3:40 am
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Post Re: Drive (2011) - SPOILER ALERT!
I really dig Drive, and while I understand the criticisms of it and even agree with some of them, it still has more than enough going for it that it's one of my favorite 2011 movies.

I was thinking about the excellent score by Cliff Martinez earlier, because I was discussing (with myself) what musical genres I'd like to attempt if I ever stepped away from what I do now, and one of them is ambient electronic. It's not a genre I'm terribly familiar with and have no great interest in, but one thing that fascinates me about it is how well it bypasses the cognitive faculties and goes straight for the emotional, subconscious, mood-altering parts of the brain. It's music for writing, because it colors your consciousness without demanding too much of your higher intellect.

This is something that stands for the Martinez score, and I think it also goes for the movie as a whole. The star of Drive is the lurid, intoxicating way in which the narrative is relayed. The idea itself is dead simple: define the characters and their problems so starkly that they become malleable according to the style of the storytelling.* The experience of the movie does not involve a complex chain of events and it isn't going to demand a lot of puzzle-solving on the part of the viewer. This is not a bad thing at all; movies are largely a medium of sensory input. Refn, Gosling, et al set up Drive so that they have free reign to impose distinctiveness upon characters and situations that are not especially distinctive themselves, upon people who don't speak exactly what's on their minds or wear their emotions on their sleeves according to the way that scripted characters are supposed to do.

Gosling's character in particular is a weird mix of Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name and Robert Bresson's Michel. With constrained body language and even constraineder dialogue, he exudes the sense that he might spring into action at any moment, whether the action be romantic or violent. (The first time the latter happens is the point of no return in Drive's clean-cut economical structure.) The character initially seems to have no problems, seems to exist on the periphery of a world where people have problems, but that in itself is his problem. He drives for people he only meets once and makes a point not to have any further contact with, he lives alone, and the only person he seems to have had a lasting association with prior to the start of the movie is a man who talks so much that he sustains the entire conversation by himself. The driver is cut adrift, and I tend to be attracted to movies with characters in that position--just about any given movie by Bresson or Paul Schrader, for example. Such characters seem passive, but it's only because whatever part of them that grants them agency has been washed over and buried from disuse. Their movies tend to be about how that agency gets dredged back up to the surface.

Which is all to say that I thought it was a pretty kickass little movie that isn't flawless, but is still a lot better for my money than a lot of movies that, purely in the accounting, might have less flaws.



*There is an entire genre of fiction that functions in a similar way: that of Batman, Spider-Man, and all the other multimedia superheroes whose stories have weathered a number of interpretations and social changes, ineluctably influencing how they were perceived from generation to generation. It is unsurprising that the filmmakers have likened Gosling's character to a superhero.

In fact, his mercurial simplicity and distinctive clothing aren't the only ways he fits the description. His story is two-dimensional in the best of ways. He's a character defined by what he does, delivered in a package defined by its style, and that can work for a story as long as those two elements are done well. In Drive, they're done very well.

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Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:43 am
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Post Re: Drive (2011) - SPOILER ALERT!
Ken wrote:
I really dig Drive, and while I understand the criticisms of it and even agree with some of them, it still has more than enough going for it that it's one of my favorite 2011 movies.

I was thinking about the excellent score by Cliff Martinez earlier, because I was discussing (with myself) what musical genres I'd like to attempt if I ever stepped away from what I do now, and one of them is ambient electronic. It's not a genre I'm terribly familiar with and have no great interest in, but one thing that fascinates me about it is how well it bypasses the cognitive faculties and goes straight for the emotional, subconscious, mood-altering parts of the brain. It's music for writing, because it colors your consciousness without demanding too much of your higher intellect.

This is something that stands for the Martinez score, and I think it also goes for the movie as a whole. The star of Drive is the lurid, intoxicating way in which the narrative is relayed. The idea itself is dead simple: define the characters and their problems so starkly that they become malleable according to the style of the storytelling.* The experience of the movie does not involve a complex chain of events and it isn't going to demand a lot of puzzle-solving on the part of the viewer. This is not a bad thing at all; movies are largely a medium of sensory input. Refn, Gosling, et al set up Drive so that they have free reign to impose distinctiveness upon characters and situations that are not especially distinctive themselves, upon people who don't speak exactly what's on their minds or wear their emotions on their sleeves according to the way that scripted characters are supposed to do.

Gosling's character in particular is a weird mix of Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name and Robert Bresson's Michel. With constrained body language and even constraineder dialogue, he exudes the sense that he might spring into action at any moment, whether the action be romantic or violent. (The first time the latter happens is the point of no return in Drive's clean-cut economical structure.) The character initially seems to have no problems, seems to exist on the periphery of a world where people have problems, but that in itself is his problem. He drives for people he only meets once and makes a point not to have any further contact with, he lives alone, and the only person he seems to have had a lasting association with prior to the start of the movie is a man who talks so much that he sustains the entire conversation by himself. The driver is cut adrift, and I tend to be attracted to movies with characters in that position--just about any given movie by Bresson or Paul Schrader, for example. Such characters seem passive, but it's only because whatever part of them that grants them agency has been washed over and buried from disuse. Their movies tend to be about how that agency gets dredged back up to the surface.

Which is all to say that I thought it was a pretty kickass little movie that isn't flawless, but is still a lot better for my money than a lot of movies that, purely in the accounting, might have less flaws.



*There is an entire genre of fiction that functions in a similar way: that of Batman, Spider-Man, and all the other multimedia superheroes whose stories have weathered a number of interpretations and social changes, ineluctably influencing how they were perceived from generation to generation. It is unsurprising that the filmmakers have likened Gosling's character to a superhero.

In fact, his mercurial simplicity and distinctive clothing aren't the only ways he fits the description. His story is two-dimensional in the best of ways. He's a character defined by what he does, delivered in a package defined by its style, and that can work for a story as long as those two elements are done well. In Drive, they're done very well.

Thank you for bringing something to the conversation.


Fri Apr 19, 2013 3:24 pm
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Post Re: Drive (2011) - SPOILER ALERT!
Quote:
In fact, his mercurial simplicity and distinctive clothing aren't the only ways he fits the description. His story is two-dimensional in the best of ways. He's a character defined by what he does,


Just a small point, I too picked up on the deliberate 2D nature of the Driver, and I recognised that this is being used as a trope rather than as an accidental result of weak writing, or acting or whatever.

But I'm not sure it clicks, because the back-end of the story hooks on why we should care about him, and care about why he cares for that bird Carey Mulligan plays. I find the two things at odds. And this also leads me back to Goslings depth as an actor. It's a hard role to pull off and make people care. In a limited way it reminds me of what Cronenburg achieved with more success with "Joey" in a history of violence. A man who has quite deliberately wiped his personality clean to bury his history - but the difference is that Mortensen is convincing as both a psychopath and as a family man. Gosling barely scratches the surface of either. Of course his performance is intended to be low-key, but it’s so slight that there is nothing to grasp onto. And scenes like the elevator scene highlight the film’s weaknesses; and Gosling’s weakness as an actor in balancing subtly and power, because when he steps into the physical world he just does not convince me enough.

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Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:35 am
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Post Re: Drive (2011) - SPOILER ALERT!
Love this movie. One of the few watchable action movies to come out in the last few years.

The theory that the Driver is autistic is slightly misguided in my opinion. To me the Driver is just highly introverted, which clashes with how our almost anti-introvert society expects their action movie protagonists to behave. James Bond, Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark, the M:I protagonist, most of the driving, central protagonists (protagonists mind you-- the villains are the introverted ones) in action movies are highly extraverted, sociable and witty.

The Driver's demeanor, slight awkwardness around the other characters and overall solitary lifestyle, evidence people use that the Driver is autistic, are also evidence for him being a highly introverted personality. His prowess in driving is often cited as another reason that he is autistic with the idea that that is his focus area of expression; however, being highly skilled in a particular area is also typical of people with introverted personalities as they're more capable of delving deeply into specific fields. He probably finds a lot of solace behind the wheel of his vehicle--a position where he has power but is insulated a little bit from the rest of the world. His explosive nature of going quickly from quiet to action is also another behavior one might see of an introvert. He appears to be calm and mild, but there is a lot going on inside his head.

I would say that the Driver simply represents a portion of the population that is underrepresented in general in America, but especially in action films. The Driver is the breed of character that works in the shadows because he really is most comfortable in the shadows--he doesn't party in his off time like other action movie heroes--he is almost always alone, happiest in his own company or that of a few close friends. I find that to be one of the most refreshing aspects of this movie.


Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:57 pm
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