The Reel Deal with Missy & Molly ‘Drive’: Joy ride or wreck?

Missy Katner

Lumen Assistant Editor

&

Molly Grosskreutz

A&E Assistant Editor

In “Drive,” Ryan Gosling plays a driver. Some may ask how this could possibly be the entire prem­ise for a full-length movie. Well, it can. The nameless protagonist is a Hollywood stunt driver by day and wheelman for criminals by night. After falling for his married neigh­bor (Carey Mulligan), one of his heists goes very wrong, putting his newfound love interest and her son in danger.

MK: Hold the phone, readers! For the first time in the history of Lumen movie reviews, the duo disagrees. Let the feuding begin! Okay, this movie is intense. In every way pos­sible. But Ryan Gosling is the choice actor for this part.

MG: Of course Ryan Gosling would do this movie. It’s all dark and broody and I’m sure he got paid a lot of money to not talk. I agree that he fits the role but I’m disappointed that he is exploiting his strong, si­lent, Jersey-accented stereotype.

MK: True, he is typecast, but I’ve actually never seen him in another film. Unless you count that one with the old people and the equally de­crepit love story.

MG: Gasp! How dare you desecrate “The Notebook”! It is one of the most beloved love stories of our generation! That’s when I was first introduced to Gosling, and I have loved him ever since.

MK: I try to pretend that movie never happened. In the first scene of “Drive,” Gosling’s character goes through the motions of one of his night jobs. He gives his clients a few simple rules: Five minutes, no more, no less. After that he can drive them out of any situation. Away from cops, helicopters, what have you.

MG: Sigh.

MK: Yes, I know this sounds com­pletely ridiculous. But he does it. Not in a Lamborghini, not in an Aston Martin, he does it in a Chevy Impala. During the entire first scene, we only see shots of the car’s inte­rior, not flashy shots of it zipping through the streets. It focuses on fac­es, rather than the action. This is and isn’t your typical car chase movie.

MG: Yeah, this movie certainly lives up to its name. There’s a lot of driv­ing going on: getaway driving, race­car driving, illegal aqueduct driv­ing, romantic leisurely driving…but some sort of legal presence was incredibly lacking throughout. Peo­ple get away with everything in this movie.

MK: Okay, Okay. But you could say that about “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) or “Kill Bill.” The absence of legal retribution doesn’t completely ruin a movie for me. It makes it farfetched, but fun. “Drive” is like the love child of “Repo Man” and “Atonement” (lots of “is somebody going to say something?” moments). And throw a bit of “Taxi Driver” in there, too. The pink opening credits and syn­thpop music choices give it a funky 80’s vibe. I wish it had explored this funkiness more throughout the en­tire movie. I think the filmmakers were trying a too hard for that o-so-cool feel.

MG: The music selection was the best part for me. The songs the sound people selected during the extensive and o-so-silent driving sequences were at least appropriate driving tunage. Yes, I just said tun­age. This is the kind of slinky, wan­nabe retro movie where I feel like I can use that word.

MK: Sometimes during movies, I want to tell all the characters to just shut up for a minute. “Drive” takes that to a whole new level. Gosling speaks maybe twice in the first 30 minutes. This movie is all about the visuals. It is set in middle of L.A. and yet, it is stunning. Instead of dialogue, the film focuses on ev­erything else: actions, expressions, lighting. It took the time to slow mo­tion beauty and horror alike.

MG: The scenery of L.A. is a char­acter unto itself. It’s a beautiful, fast-paced city that is constantly in motion. But come on. L.A. is cliché. And inexpensive to film in from a production standpoint. I’d call set­ting this film in L.A. laziness and a lack of creativity.

MK: You do have a point. I haven’t spent time in L.A., but no other city has such a well-known double identity. Although this may just be another cliché, I can’t think of a city better suited for the story of a stunt man/wheelman. And like you said, L.A. is always in motion. That fits with “Drive.” Let’s spend a moment on the driver’s costume. Love it or hate it, I’ve already heard one per­son say they are dressing up as him for Halloween.

MG: Oh jeez. I hope that doesn’t happen. Costumers certainly achieved a distinctive “look” for Gosling, but the jacket looked cheap and it got progressively bloodier and dirtier as the film went on. The jacket’s decline might be intended to be metaphorical, but it didn’t work. As for the gloves…I guess every driver needs a pair? And the tooth­pick. Don’t forget the toothpick, Gosling’s character never went any­where without it. Nothing says “I’m brooding” quite like a man chewing on a toothpick.

MK: Haha yes, I agree that the cos­tume was over-the-top. I maintain that if the movie had utilized its potential funkiness, the costume would have worked. This movie is flawed. That’s for sure. Two com­ments I heard about this movie go­ing in was extremely long pauses and the brutal violence. Both were very true, so if you are made uncom­fortable by these things, you prob­ably won’t like this movie.

MG: This movie is flawed. I think the lack of dialogue was supposed to be artistic and intense, but for our noise-accustomed society, the silence sometimes came off as awk­ward and uncomfortable. The bru­tal violence was just icky. Just. Icky. Gosling’s enemies kill people, Gos­ling kills a person, and then life goes on. The brutal violence is depicted as just an everyday occurrence.

MK: I believed in Gosling’s char­acter completely…until all the vio­lence began. It wasn’t because of the violence itself (that wasn’t as bad as I was expecting). It just seemed wrong that this soft-spoken guy could ten­derly kiss his neighbor in an eleva­tor and not 10 seconds later, stomp a man’s face in. The brutal slaughter devalued his character considerably. The kiss was buzzed about as being one of the most beautiful onscreen kisses. Just as you are trying to revel in the loveliness of that moment, you are wrenched away to witness something grotesque. I am torn be­tween hating and loving that scene. But perhaps, that was the intention.

MG: The kiss was anticlimactic. There was so much tension leading up to it and it just seemed like the wrong time and the conditions were just bizarre. I wanted to think the best of Gosling’s character as well, but the whole face-stomping bit that late in the movie made me feel as though his character had hardly changed from the insensitive bad-ass he started out as. So much for love changing that.

MK: Overall, I was thoroughly en­tertained by this movie. Perhaps because it was a throwback to the campy cult films of the 80’s. Most importantly, I have the urge to see “Drive” again. It is the only movie so far this year that I would pay to see twice. And! It is the only movie I ever would go see again solely for the opening credits.

MG: The opening credits are all I’d need to see to get the gist of this film if I hadn’t already seen it: a guy driving around the big city looking pissy.

Final Verdict

MK: Thumbs up.

MG: Thumbs down.

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