Movie Review: Drive

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“If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place.  I give you a five-minute window. Anything happens in that five minutes, and I’m yours no matter what.  I don’t sit in while you’re running it down.  I don’t carry a gun. I drive.”

“Driver” (Ryan Gosling), a Hollywood stunt driver and mechanic by day, moonlights as a wheelman for robbers at night.  He’s the silent figure who drives the getaway car.  He knows his escape routes.  He drives.  That’s it.  We know nothing else about him, not even his real name.

Driver maintains a cordial working relationship with “Shannon” (Bryan Cranston), his boss.  Knowing how good Driver is at his job, his boss would like to install him as a race car driver and introduces him to his connections for financial backing, Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and “Nino” (Ron Perlman).

Driver is a loner.  His work is his life.  That changes when he runs into and befriends his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps“), and her son, Benicio (Kaden Leos).  Trouble starts when Irene’s husband is released from prison and his past is catching up with him.  Driver offers to help him out with a “last job” as a means to keep Irene and Benicio safe.  It turns out that the job, a seemingly simple robbery of a pawn shop, is not as it appears to be.  The botched job is linked to other connections beyond belief and things go very wrong from there.

Don’t mistake “Drive” as a typical action movie.  It has an arthouse feel to it, which reminds me of last year’s “The American.”  You won’t find endless car chases or explosions.  What you will find are dramatic episodes of extreme violence interspersed with nearly wordless scenes.  From an agreeable handshake to flesh slicing.  Or a tender kiss to skull-crushing kicks.  It’s shockingly, mercilessly brutal and bloody.

“Drive” is a story about a someone who’s always in the driver’s seat, but goes overdrive to protect the people he cares about.  Driver is a man of intense actions with a few words.  Gosling owns every screen he’s in and conveys much through a glance, stare, smile, hand or touch.  Calm and controlled, but primal and deliberate.

As a whole, the film seems pointless and incredulous.  Yet it’s thoroughly absorbing and easy to suspend disbelief because of its noir style and trance-like atmosphere, underscored by its prevailing pulsing score, and maudlin in some.  “Drive” is not for everyone.  But this is one that will make a lasting imprint.

Copyright (c) 2011. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, lifestyle/travel writer and film columnist. She can be reached at Nathalia owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven (  Twitter:

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].


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