Drive ★★★★★

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He enters into the gritty world of Los Angeles, nothing but his talents, alienated by his cold stare and empty-like persona; we are introduced to him by his talent for stealth and manoeuvring, acting as a getaway driver for petty thieves, before the operation has taken place, his conditions have already been made aware of, he exists to perform, and perform he does brilliantly.

In his emptiness lies an unspoken loneliness that haunts him as the camera constantly clings to him, a past that is only revealed through the shared words of the one man that is closest to him — a garage owner by the name of Shannon, a profiteer who admires his skills and has taken him close under his wing. Only through the desperate circumstances that the Driver’s neighbour, Irene and her son Benicio, finds themselves in does the film energise the desires of our protagonist. The position of belonging, craved deeply and conveyed through the genuine smiles brought upon irene and Benicio’s presence, a perfect fit that tailors to his needs, and evidently theirs too.

It is through this romantic passion and sense of true purpose within the Driver’s life that charges the film’s core themes, constantly striving to reach that end goal that are barricaded by unfortunate criminal conditions, starting with the return of Irene’s husband, Standard, from prison. Standard, a man who desires redemption upon the eyes of his family, becomes pulled away from the criminal ties of his past, risking the lives of his family and dragging along our fellow protagonist — resulting in a robbery that turns for the worst, escalating further and inevitable places those he most cherishingly adores in severe threat.

The film slowly shifts in its composed but deeply passionate romanticism towards an aura of eruptive violence and chilling atmosphere, but it is a transition that appears seamless, grappling its viewers with its sense of mood, whilst maintaining an uncompromising quiet nature, a defining feature for the film.

Its director, Nicolas Winding Refn, indulges with outstanding effect, the synth and neon-like qualities of the 1980s, reviving a style now considered to be retro, creating an atmosphere that speaks profoundly of the Driver’s emotions, direction that takes on the responsibilities for character transparency and development rather than to be in deep reliance of traditional tropes of storytelling, emphasising the capabilities of the cinematic format whilst simultaneously engaging its viewer. Visually composed and spectacular drawn, Drive may be memorable for its gritty, haunting, attractive and inspired imagery, but it is in the music that allows Drive to flow out clearly its intentions and the agent that adherently linger with you; may it be the original score by Cliff Martinez or the fitting drops of Kavinsky’s Nightcall, College’s A Real Hero, and Desire’s Under Your Spell.

Drive would someday prove itself to be an influential arthouse piece, influencing the familiar and strenuous genres of the Hollywood system, shifting their priorities towards something with a more defining stamp that would challenge its viewers and revive their deep sense of passion for the medium.

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