Lisa Hanawalt: Drive

Lisa Hanawalt, “Drive”

There isn’t much to be said about this endearing graphic review of the film Drive beyond the obvious: You should check it out. Hanawalt has a great sense of humor and touches on some of the things I, too, found strange about this movie. Though it was an interesting film and right up my alley thematically, it felt disingenuous to me. The violence seemed unnecessarily brutal while the rest of the film’s world didn’t reflect that same grittiness, robbing those scenes of their credibility.

It also doesn’t help that I think the movie closes with what is possibly the most hilarious theme song ever put to film: College’s “A Real Hero.”  It’s like some kind of anesthetized riff on Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero,  and THAT just makes me think of 1) Footloose and 2) Short Circuit. I guess all three of those films focus on the same character archetype: social outcast with a propensity to unique heroics and taking the law into their own hands. I just wish that Gosling’s heroics weren’t forcibly accompanied by bizarre pregnant pauses and unsettling-yet-humorous vapid-or-deep-who-knows? sloth-smiles (see above). Seriously, it looks like he’s perpetually cracking up at a joke that is simply too funny to share with anyone around him, even the weepy Carey Mulligan. Maybe that’s the point? That he sees everything around him as a big joke, a game? I’m usually pretty good at figuring this kind of thing out and I don’t have a clue on this one. Hence my feelings of disingenuousness.

I hope this doesn’t imply I dislike the movie. I actually liked it quite a lot. I appreciate what the director, Nicolas Winding Refn – whose other works I’ve enjoyed (especially Valhalla) – was going for with this. It has great production values, a stylish aesthetic, excellent cinematography, and a minimalist, but interesting story. I like films that let the viewer do some work. Refn obviously intended to create a film that hearkened back to “the good old days” when the stoic, take-charge hero set an example to be emulated and admired.

Some may cringe with regards to the violence, but this character is an heroic update appropriate for an arguably more brutal (at least desensitized) modern age. Drive especially reminded me of Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen (both of whom I love) and that’s never a bad thing. I just wish it had a little more driving and a lot less film school pretentiousness.

At the very least I am thankful the film exists to give birth to the creative review above. Enjoy!

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