mercoledì 12 ottobre 2011


Something is rotten in the State of California, and if it is a Danish guy to declare it, you should believe him, especially if his name is Nicolas Winding Refn.
The no-name hero of his movie Drive lives in LA and works as a stuntman during the day and as a getaway driver of crimes at night. And he is very good at what he does. All the rest, it’s a mystery: no family, no friends, and apparently no past life. He is a solitary and silent man. One day, he meets by chance Irene, a young neighbour, and her little children Benicio, and his existence is transformed. When Irene’s husband comes back home from jail, it is easy for the driver to accept of being involved in a dangerous hold-up: it is just by doing so that the criminals, to whom Irene’s husband owes money, will leave the woman and her son alone. Useless to say, things will be a bit more complicated than expected…
This is the movie of the consecration for Winding Refn, a Danish angry young man (he was born in Copenhagen in 1970) who is considered one of the most original and interesting talents of European cinema. He built his reputation through tough and personal movies like the trilogy Pusher, the chilling thriller Fear X and two movies of stylized violence like Bronson and Valhalla Rising, often using as his alter ego the more-than-amazing Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen. Awarded of the Best Director Prize at the last Cannes Film Festival, Drive is surely less uncompromising and more mainstream than all his other movies, but it is by far the most enjoyable one. 
For somebody who doesn’t have a driving licence (apparently he failed the test 8 times), Winding Refn has an incredible ability of showing the beauty and the thrilling sensation you can feel seated at a four wheels. American cinema is packed with spectacular and often unbelievable scenes of car racings, but the ones filmed here have a more subtle and simple taste. The filmmaker doesn’t want to show off; he just wants us to enter into the driver’s universe in a smooth but gripping way. I really like the silent characters of Winding Refn cinema: like the One-Eye of Valhalla Rising, the driver lives his life more through images than through words. He is watching carefully what’s going on, often a mystical witness of the absurdity of life, inhabited by a wisdom that puts him on a different level. As many silent, charismatic and solitary heroes of American cinema (Clint Eastwood, are you there?), the driver played so wonderfully by Ryan Gosling has the astonishing quality of being redeemed by love but haunted by violence.
To the surprise of many, I will dare to define Drive as an incredibly romantic movie. In this sense, the elevator scene is the most beautiful and pivotal one: in an elegant, almost old-style slow motion, the man turns to kiss Irene, suddenly illuminated by a perfect light, and his arm protects her from the presence of a third presence in the elevator. The person is a criminal, and after few seconds he will be knocked down by the animal and brutal violence of the same man. The representation of violence in Winding Refn movies, clearly influenced by the cinema of Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma and Michael Mann, has Kitanesque’s nuances: is rapid, merciless and stylish (with forks, instead of chopsticks, in the eyes). Another essential element of Drive is the music, in various moments invading the screen like a real form of life, expressing things like a dialogue would do.
And then the cast: I already declared my love for Ryan Gosling in my post about Blue Valentine (, so I don’t have much to add on this. His career choices are simply perfect. The other brilliant presence in the movie is the one of Bryan Cranston, the cherished actor of the TV series Breaking Bad, who masterfully built his character in just few scenes. Also the villains are not bad: Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman are scary and magnetic in the right way. On the female side, Christina Hendricks (the Joan of Mad Men) has a too short role to say something interesting about her, while I have to make here a declaration, and not a loving one, about Carey Mulligan: I can’t stand her. Since the very first time I saw her on screen I asked myself why this girl is considered a good actress. She pretends to be deep but she is not, she pretends to have a complete range of expressions but she doesn’t, she wants to look smart but she just looks unbearable. Her way of acting is unbelievably boring, and I mean, she is not even stunningly gorgeous (quite the opposite, as a matter of fact). Why is she on a silver screen? Maybe I am missing the point, but can somebody explained me why is she becoming so famous and why is she working with such good film-makers? All this remains a mystery to me.  
Should I finally make up my mind and get the driving license I never even tried to have?
I asked myself at the end of the movie. Well, if Ryan Gosling is giving private driving lessons, I promise: I will serioulsy think about that... 

2 commenti:

  1. I'm glad you liked this movie! It's kind of divisive, no?

    I was really surprised by how moved I was by the love story! I didn't expect that reaction at all. And I'm so, so happy Albert Brooks is getting recognition for this. He's been a long-time favorite of mine for years. _Defending Your Life_ is one of my favorite movies ever.

  2. I was very moved too by the love story, Josephine, to the point that I really think this is an incredibly romantic movie, as I said in my post!


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