Thursday, September 22, 2011

The scorpion and the frog

A film that is polarizing audiences into the either love it or hate it camp. It is all the more fitting that Drive plays with opposites. Uncomfortable silence and abrasive rage. Nicolas Winding Refn is no stranger to the crime genre. Hitting the streets with the gritty Pusher trilogy then hitting the slammer with Bronson.

Slow motion violence can be traced back all the way to the man who made it 'cool'- Sam Peckinpah. Since then, a number of directors have infused it into their style and went for the drawn out as opposed to the Scorsese 1-2-BANG YOU'RE DEAD school of violence. This film demonstrates both at just the moment it calls for. Take for instance, the hotel scene. Given that a number of moments in the film show the Driver reacting to something happening off screen, it gives way for that type of audience inclination at what will happen next. He knows what's going to happen and seconds later we catch up.

Now I bring this up only because a criticism of the film has been it's overstylized slow motion. This isn't used as a gimmick ala Zack Snyder. I try replaying that scene in standard, pun viciously intended, speed. & it doesn't have nearly as much impact. On that token, putting the pawn shop heist in slow motion would have completely squandered the tension built up for that scene.

A major reason why Drive works so well is because of the choices dictated by Refn. What to do and what NOT to do. He knows how to build a scene

The aesthetic of Drive has been compared to that of 80's films such as To Live and Die In LA but with an even harsher, unflinching edge that accentuates the violence ever more so. Stylish. Sleak. Sophisticated. That's what the reviews are saying. If there ever was a more nail on the head remark it is that- stylish. It clearly wears it's 80's influences on its sleave.

At least a half a dozen scenes are seared into my memory. Drive is a film that will keep you under its spell long after you leave the theatere.

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