Drive ★★★★★

Maybe I wasn't in the right mood and mindset during my last watch because this sure isn't a 3-star movie. I always remembered Drive as a thriller but it leans more towards crime drama, at least for the first hour. Narratively, I felt that Drive came across as a deconstruction of its lead's style of character (ie The Driver of Walter Hill's film, Parker, and others) in how Gosling's wheelman comes alive in the midst of violence and amid the action of the criminal underworld, but is detached and distant in the face of normalcy. Because even in the sweetest moments, something about the relationship, like it's something more for him. He tries to be a good person, near deluded in the attempt to have a normal life and relationship, but the driver is actually a terrifying individual, hiding a broiling rage and ruthlessness beneath that exterior. 

Violence - whether towards other characters or by his own hands - is never heroic in Drive; it's messy and uncomfortable and grotesque. What would be an act of protection is utterly brutal to the extreme, as seen by Irene's reaction of shock and fear to the infamous elevator scene. An act of vengeance in another moment is portrayed like a slasher closing in on his victim, the driver a shadowed stalking silent figure reminiscent of the Shape with his measured gait and eerie mask.

It's not all disturbing violence and awkward emotions. Drive's minimalist structure remains very effective, from the intimate scale of its crime thriller narrative to the memorable iconography that imbues the film with personality.

The opening getaway feels like a genre classic in how it subverts the typical approach to the car chase in favor of precise cat-and-mouse outmaneuvering, the synth heartbeat underlining the sequence and maintaining tension, the escape simultaneously escalating alongside the basketball game on the radio.

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