I’ve been off from work for the past week or so and it’s given me a chance to catch up with a few movies that I’ve been meaning to see. It also meant that we could go to the pictures (yes, that’s what we call them in the UK) and enjoy oven-baking heat as well as catching one of the latest flicks.
The other day we were going to watch ‘Tree of Life’ from the pay-per-view option on our TV, but the running time of two hours and twenty minutes, plus when I mentioned that the movie featured both Brad Pitt and dinosaurs but it had nothing to do with Jurassic Park the notion soon wore off. For another day.
Instead, I put on ‘Drive’
Ryan Gosling plays a driver who has aspirations to drive racing cars professionally, but to make ends meet works part-time at a garage and is also a stunt driver for movie studios. He’s also a getaway driver for hire.
He befriends a young woman and her son who live in the same building and he finds out that her husband is soon to be released from jail. The husband is beaten up on his release from prison and the driver offers to help him do one ‘last job’.
Let’s start with the good points. A running time of less than two hours is generally a good thing. It’s very nicely shot and doesn’t over-complicate things with too many hand-held camera bouncing-all-over-the screen shots. He (the character has no name) wears driving gloves and the only other one I’ve seen do that was Alan Partridge
It has a good opening set-piece to put things into perspective for the audience nice and early. The cast was pretty good without resorting to the stereotypical ‘underworld’ figures that we see all too often. It has an interesting enough story(and a twist) that doesn’t need to rely on over-the-top special effects, 3-D, or 101 cliches that they could have taken from the Hollywood ‘How To…’ book.
However, it also has some big flaws. First, the background music is a real pain in the arse. As there’s hardly any dialogue in the film the music takes on a more central role, but it hardly ever fades into the background. It was like listening to the Cocteau Twins backwards but not in a good way. It really is one of the most annoying soundtracks I can remember and if it was supposed to help us engage more with the characters, then it failed. All I wanted it to do was stop.
Moreover, after quite a decent opening set-piece, the movie then navel-gazes its way through the next thirty minutes or so. Remember, not much dialogue, so lot’s of looks, glances, suggestions etc. After a while it becomes a bit repetitive. Part of the narrative has Ryan Gosling set up to become a race car driver but his aspirations are never really explained. It leaves the character as a bit one-dimensional in my opinion.
It’s also quite a violent movie (think gangsters and hammers and you’ll get my drift) so if that’s not to your taste then you’ll have to look away once or twice. It did fit in with the story line and didn’t rely on it as an integral part of the narrative.
To sum up, I thought it was decent but nothing as awesome as it’d been hyped up to be. There are one or two excellently choreographed scenes, Gosling and Albert Brooks (as the villain of the piece) are very good, and it’ll no doubt be up for a few Oscars in the new year.