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Friday, January 6, 2012

"Drive", stylised race to nowhere


Sorry to say that, but there's something seriously wrong with critics, or the situation with regards to cinema is even worse that I thought. I already expected that Malick's "The Tree of Life" would make it for the majority of best-of the year lists. It was too obvious: the critic's ego needed to include it. But also "Drive"? Sorry, that's too much.

Don't get me wrong. "Drive" is a way better film than Malick's. Much more focused, not that pretentious and complete. Its even quite engaging and suggestive, with a very peculiar aesthetics that obviously is its biggest attractive. But among the best of 2011? What an awful year it has been then.

"Drive" is a style exercise, ideal to make some "specialised magazines" to target it as the "coolest" film of the year. The way it is filmed (these sun-baked scenes mixed with the more usual dark ones), admittedly appealing, Ryan Gosling poses (and his jacket and gloves if you are into that kind of fetishism), the music (paused and abstract electro clearly devoted from the 80s),  the pink credits... Oh sorry, I forgot to say, the 80s electro music and the pink credits... are a bit kitsch (specially the song "A Real Hero"). But aside its nice envelope, there's nothing much to find here.  

Story-wise, "Drive" offers absolutely nothing new. We have seen Gosling's silent, lonely and unnamed character before. As interesting the brutal ellipsis or the lack of flashbacks to tell us why "our driver" behaves that way must be (good for director Nicolas Winding Refn in that sense) or how magnetic is Gosling's performance (as expected) the hero in our film is pretty hard to believe. And I don't buy the "violence is just part of the world he has chosen to live in) argument. Then some more explanation would be needed.

No, probably my major concern with "Drive" has to do with the criminal story, the noir thriller. Let's buy for a second our quiet, introspective driver would risk his life and his future career as a racer for the girl (strangely looking, aged Carey Mulligan) and her husband, who returns from prison (can anyone really have so little clue about the person who is married with?). But why the money cannot be simply returned? Who would really go to the cops if there's no one in the film without the hands covered in blood? Why all this genre films has this sort of "that's the unavoidable fate". Sorry, maybe its me that doesn't really gets into this kind of style, but to me the whole plot was just an excuse to justify the escalation of also stylised violent, crude scenes.     

Overall, a pretty solid film in what it really offers: a noir impact thriller where atmosphere and style is way ahead of emotion. And entertaining, intense and sometimes brutal recreation of the crime films of the 80's, but light-years from being a masterpiece.

SCORE: 6/10

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