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

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


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    September 19, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    “Not for everyone” is quite an understatement (or just part of the complete statement, which I believe should be “Not for everyone who assumes that this movie has a lot of action or driving, which is the entire possible viewing audience”). It feels like a really bad remake of a pretty bad remake of a combination of bad (and overly long) Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen and Paul Newman films. For the record, I like Ryan Gosling’s acting, I can enjoy quite a bit of violence in a move (I love Pulp Fiction and Natural Born Killers, for example), and I like nudity as much as anyone can. But all of those pieces are horribly misaligned in this movie. The nudity is mixed with pretty severe brutality, and Gosling doesn’t really act much. He doesn’t “convey information with a nod or an expression” – he simply doesn’t have an expression most of the time. I say save your money – I wasted $5.00 at a matinee, and I left trying to figure out if I could get a refund.

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    September 19, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Not sure if you watched the same movie I did there was no nudity or sex a great kissing scene in the elevator in the movie Drive. Drive was about a man/driver who was a loner and who happens to fall in love with his neighbor and her son. When a heist goes wrong Ryan Gosling goes into protection mode not for himself but for the women he fell in love with and would stop at nothing to make sure they were not targets. Yes, there was violence but compared to the movies out and coming out soon I would say less violence. A slow start but once it got going it was going. Gosling played a great part a bit different role for him but he played a great part. For the record I’m not a big Gosling fan.

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    September 20, 2011 at 3:07 am

    Well, Debbie, there was nudity, maybe you just fell asleep and missed it. Which would have been easy to do in this movie. There was not alot going on. The dialogue was akward filled with long pauses. and to top it all off, the soundtrac was annoying and a bit to loud and distracting.

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    Drake Hollander

    October 5, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Nick, you’re an imbecile and should stay away from the theater (and the Internet) for the remainder of your life.

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