Drive is not a bad film. Far from it. You do find yourself caught up in the adventures of Ryan Gosling’s may-as-well be mute, The Driver. But let’s not pretend we’ve travelled further than b-movie territory. The Driver is equal parts stunt man, getaway driver and racecar driver. Women want him, rednecks that hire him for robberies want to be him. He’s uber-cool. All this, despite wearing a silver jacket and constantly chewing on a toothpick like a nu-rave James Dean.
Into his life walks Carey Mulligan, who is only challenged by Emily Watson for most likely to burst into tears at the drop of a kitten. Mulligan brings with her a son and criminal husband who owes money to a local mobster. On attempt to woo Mulligan, Gosling offers to help the husband rob a pawn shop that will see his debt cleared. Then it all goes a bit Pete Tong. Not that the Driver listens to Pete Tong. He’s too fucking cool.
Walking around in skinny jeans and smiling like a 12 year old that’s got his first erection, Gosling borders on the edge of slapable. His ‘five minute’ speech being a particular low point of arsery. An over-rehearsed monologue that is sure to be recited by various university tits on a night in some pound a pint hellhole. That the film manages to make us care at least a bit for him by the end of the film is a feat in itself.
To say all this, suggests that the film isn’t worth watching. I guess if I’m criticising anything then it’s the reviews that have come before this. Drive is dangerously close to the cinematic equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes. For all its plaudits and praise, underneath its aggressively faux-80s soundtrack, it’s really a wafer thin plot that would be sniffed at had it been done by other genre emulating directors. Cough, Tarantino, cough. There’s a boy’s club that suggests that if you don’t like Drive then you didn’t ‘get it’ because it’s arthouse. That Drive is classed as arthouse is amusing in itself, as it appears the definition of arthouse now means sloooowing things down for no clear reason. After a while, it starts feeling like a directors’ in-joke or, at the very least, a homage to Garth Merenghi’s Darkplace.
Some will be put off Drive because of what has been said before and it’s a shame. Once it gets into top gear, it is a tense little number that you’ll really enjoy. You’ll just wonder what all the fuss was about.