Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Drive Review

"OK, so here's what I want to do.  I'm going to make a movie about a professional criminal driver who would really just like to make a fresh start in the tough town of LA.  He meets a girl and tries to do the right thing by her in his own weird and immoral way.  We've seen this type of thing before.  But I'm going to add a twist.  I am going to ensure that the actor I get to play him has always just taken a lot of valium before we start shooting."  I can only imagine that's how the film makers went about pitching this movie to the studios.  I know that Ryan Gosling's character is supposed to be mysterious and quiet and have a past that we can only speculate about.  But there's a difference between calm and collected and almost comatose with lack of emotion.  He went a little too far towards comatose.

The supporting acting wasn't a whole lot better.  I could never believe Bryan Cranston's limp but maybe that's just because all I ever see when he's on screen is Malcolm's dad.  Ron Perlman was a disappointment too.  Normally, he's very good.  But he went too far over the top with most of what he did and it came off as plastic.  Finally, I guess the Simpsons has ruined me because even if I see that it's Albert Brooks on the screen, as soon as he starts talking, all I get in my head is Hank Scorpio offering Homer Simpson some sugar.  But even with my own biases towards the choice of actors, none of their performances really made me believe in the characters.  Cranston just couldn't make me think of a two-bit part time criminal.  Perlman couldn't make me believe he was a mafioso type.  And Brooks did not project the fear and terror that a character like that should.

Often in these reviews I will say that it has a really good story but they just don't tell it right.  Well, in this one, I don't even think they had a very good story.  I know there's a limited number of basic archetypes out there and I don't mind retelling of things with a different angle.  But they really fell flat with their "man with no name as a flawed hero" style of story.  And even though Gosling has a name in it, it really is that story.  Instead of sticking to that, they take it and try to add an element of LA angst that is somewhat akin to Punch Drunk Love or the book "Bright Shiny Morning" by James Frey (a movie and book I would highly recommend to anyone).  It worked those.  It did not work here.  Their melancholic locations, inappropriate use of slow motion and what can only be described as baffling choices in both soundtrack (faux 80s music) and score (often just one monotonous sound or a build up that is supposed to be used when a big change or realization is supposed to happen) and I'm actually quite confused as to what they were trying to do.  There didn't seem to be any emotional changes at all in the movie even though, from what was going on, I could tell that tension was supposed to be building.  But there is not a proper base for the story from the start.  For a long time, they jump from plot point to plot point instead of taking you there with proper exposition.  Without building that base, the viewer is not vested enough in the film to really feel the tension when it is needed.

With everything they tried in this movie, they really failed to deliver.  I could see that they were trying to be a bit experimental and innovative.  But it just didn't work.  Don't see it.

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