The guy just likes to drive. Is that too much to ask for? Why can't gangsters let him be and get with the girl? Well, so is the life of the Driver in Drive, the tale of a Hollywood stunt-car driver by day and a getaway driver by night.
Drive is relatively simple filmmaking that is complex and complicated due to the depth of the performance from Ryan Gosling and the psychological directing of Nicholas Winding Refn. The Driver falls in love for his next door neighbor, Irene, portrayed by a refined Carey Mulligan, but yo ho, complications arise when her husband is released from prison and the Driver must aid this family that he has grown to care for when Irene's husband must pull off a heist to pay off a debt. Refn and Gosling work in tandem to do so much with so little. Gosling does not show much emotion, but rather his eyes show that he is thinking about the events transpiring, and Refn just keeps the camera on him, letting us as the audience meditate whilst slowly dollying in at all of the right moments to bring us into the Driver's mind. The cinematography by Newton Thomas Siegel is definitely a highlight that helps all of the proceedings, and Refn and Siegel are in for potential Oscar noms.
However, Drive is a tale of two halves. The first half deals with the Driver living his odd life simply wanting to drive no matter what he is doing, whilst getting to know Irene and her son, which was a lot stronger in terms of character; where as the latter half forsakes all of the strong character work in the first half for gratuitous violence. While Refn and Gosling manage to keep it together in the few quiet moments near the end, the action often overwhelms the characters and they get lost in the shuffle. So what? Even if Drive shifts from a spectacular contemplative drama to fairly standard thriller midway through, Refn delivers the thrills in pulse pounding, Hitchcock fashion to make Drive a thrill throughout.
I give Drive an A-!