Review: “Drive” – Susan Granger

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

It’s delusional to consider this an action film. There’s lots of grotesque violence, but most of the time an artsy, self-conscious, existentialist stillness reigns – or, more accurately, tedium – although Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn was lauded at Cannes for his hyper-stylish, neo-noir direction.

Set in Los Angeles, the plot pivots on a nameless, monosyllabic, emotionless wheelman (Ryan Gosling) who, ostensibly, works as a movie stunt driver but is often hired by mobsters for their getaway cars. He’s so adept that his garage mechanic boss, Shannon (“Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston), wants to bankroll him to race stock cars. But when he helps out a sweet-faced neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), at a nearby Big 6 supermarket, he becomes involved with her, her wide-eyed young son, Benicio (Kaden Leos), and her ex-con husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac).

There’s a pawn-shop heist that goes wrong, which infuriates gangsters Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks), his partner (Ron Perlman) and a bimbo accomplice (Christina Hendricks of TV’s “Mad Men”).

Hossein Amini’s minimalist adaptation of James Sallis’ novel barely delineates the cars-and-crime storyline, not to mention individual characters and their psychological motivations. Plus, there are so many editing inconsistencies that it’s easy to become distracted. Like- what happened to the driver’s own bag of groceries when he carried in his neighbor’s two? And why is there an elegant, wood-paneled elevator in a garage? Augmenting the pervasive sense of unease is Johnny Jewel’s discordant synth pop.

Despite the quirky drawbacks, Ryan Gosling scores as the moody, monosyllabic loner, evoking Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood and/or Lee Marvin. Born in Canada, Gosling was one of Disney’s Mouseketeers. After achieving big-screen fame in “The Notebook,” he romanced a sex doll in “Lars and the Real Girl” and Anne Hathaway in “Crazy, Stupid Love” and his dramatic roles include “Half Nelson” and “Blue Valentine.”

Comedian Albert Brooks adroitly shifts to show his mean side, but Carey Mulligan (“An Education”) is woefully miscast as the hard-luck mom.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Drive” idles in with a 4 – and then stalls out.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.