Mojave Flick Review: Drive

Editor’s note: We all love movies, but rather than ask a syndicated columnist who has never visited our beautiful High Desert, we commissioned our own local movie critic: Nolan P. Smith to review films and give us a local perspective. Enjoy!

Miguel Gonzalez


By Nolan Patrick Smith

High Desert Daily

(Victor Valley)—Every so often, a movie comes out that oozes of coolness. James Dean kind of coolness, Clint Eastwood kind of coolness: it is no easy feat. When a film can visually mesmerize you for the duration of the film, and when you leave the theater, you think “wow, that was really good”, then you know you just saw something special. In 2011, Drive is that movie.

The film has a storied history: it is based off of the novel Drive by James Sallis, which was released in 2005. At one time, the film was pegged to be a big budget action flick, with Hugh Jackman set to star. Well, things change, and Jackman became distanced from the film, which opened the door for Ryan Gosling (The Notebook) to be approached, and for the film to be billed more as an independent film. Gosling was asked for his choice for director, in which he picked Danish film director Nicolas Winding Refn. The film drew big names to the project, including Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and Ron Pearlman (Sons of Anarchy), and once released at Cannes Film Festival in 2011, it became evident that this film was good, no, great.

Gosling plays an unnamed Hollywood stunt driver, who speaks a handful of lines throughout the entire film. He exudes that coolness I mentioned earlier, with his scorpion-laden jacket, and his alienated lifestyle, which is a far cry from Gosling’s previous films. Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go) plays opposite to Gosling, being the troubled wife to a just released ex-convict, and the love interest of sorts for the anonymous driver. Cranston plays the driver’s boss and friend, with Pearlman playing a tough guy Mafioso. The film is set in the gem of Southern California, Los Angeles, and what a setting it is. But without the right director, this film could have easily been another hack of an action film. The plot is pretty basic: the driver ends up on the wrong side of the mob, and he fights back to protect those he cares about. Thankfully, Refn shows the story and world of Drive in a light like no other.

The cinematography seen here, the scenes, and the angles all make this film an unforgettable experience. From the pauses that give you time to let all the facial expressions and emotions soak in, to the camera work that makes Los Angeles embody the greatness and mystery factor it’s known for, it is the director’s vision that makes this film shine. The haunting score and soundtrack also help make the film much more than just a movie: it’s an experience.

With a slew of films that have been sub par as of late (Shark Night, Colombiana, Creature), it was refreshing to see such a force of creativity hit the screen. Gosling shows that he can be cool, and that he can be much more than “that guy in The Notebook”, and Refn shows that, with his directorial eye and Best Director Award from Cannes, he is one to keep an eye on. Highly recommended.

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