Drive (2011) Review

director: Nicolas Winding Refn

writer: Hossein Amini

starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks and Bryan Cranston

genre: Crime | Drama

release date: 22 September, 2011 (Greece), 16 September, 2011 (U.S.)

I had long wanted to see this film. Its trailer mesmerized me and the film hypnotized me. "Drive" did not disappoint, not one bit. Its my favorite film of 2011 and kept me hooked and enjoying every second of suspense and adrenaline on the screen.


A stunt car driver/mechanic (Ryan Gosling) lives a quiet life and takes advantage of his driving skills to do small time heist jobs. When he meets his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio everything changes in the way he sees life. He finds now a purpose and a glimpse of happiness. A chance from his friend and boss Shannon (Bryan Cranston), comes with a fancy business proposal. To be a race car driver and be funded by Shannon's shady business partner Bernie (Albert Brooks). All seems to be going well, until Irene's husband returns and reality sets things into motion. Now the "Driver" has to decide what's most important to him, his chance at happiness or doing the right thing.


Few films are perfect. When I say that, I don't mean that this film or any film is flawless. But that they accomplish all of their goals as a film and have very distinct characteristics and admirable feats. That is what makes a film great. Drive is a perfect film in that sense. It never fails to thrill you. It's a depressive story of men down in the gutter and trying catch a break. It's a story as old as life. Luck and coincidence play a big part, to our success in life. Luck played no part though, in making this film great. Director Refn played the film heavily on the characters actions, making this film truly unique in the way the characters emote and interact. Whenever there is dialogue, its always serious and meaningful. This film is more about the characters actions and behavior than moments that would be arbitrary to the story or intensity of the scenes.

Director Nicolas Winding Refn filmmaking for me is what won me over into thinking this is the best film of the year. His direction is impeccable from start to finish. Refn's camera placement, choice of slow motion on emphasizing the characters emotions and the intensity of the action. Giving also silent moments, to make the emotions of the characters speak for themselves, instead of unnecessary expository dialogue, or useless sex scenes.

Besides the directing, also the choice of soundtrack music, with the collaboration of composer Cliff Martinez is exquisite. The films music tone is of electric pop vibe, with hints of classical music and a dark minimal score, that fits the film perfectly. Its the quiet moments with the L.A. background, that could seem like a odd match with the music chosen. But within the film, its all placed in perfect harmony. All the songs are great by themselves, but also within the context of their scene placement. It only makes the deep emotional dramatic scenes and the thought provoking character scenes even more special. We pay too much attention to dialogue in films, and words in life. The music lets us get deeper into whats going on in the story, into the characters feelings and also can be seen as metaphors for the individual scenes.

This is a film not special, because it does something mind breaking, or it makes you think. Films don't always have to be about deeper meanings or twist endings and thought provoking material. A film can also be special, due to being superbly made and having a strong and deep emotional story. Combined with the excellent and unique filmmaking style and great soundtrack are "Drive's" special qualities.

Drive is a incredible crime drama that puts its characters in the deep and you in for the ride with them. In a way, it's a story of how we all dream of something better, a brighter future. Its all about, being a little happier now, then before. But our past, our friends, our own nature gets in our way. We ourselves are the reason why we don't go forward. This is for many of the characters in the film, is nothing but true, as in our own lives.


"Drive" was a blast for me, and I can only hope it's the same for everyone else. If your into car films like "Bullitt" (1968) or heavy dramatic criminal films such as "Heat" (1995) then "Drive" is the car of choice.

Personal Rating:


review by Paul Katsaros

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