Scorpion and the Frog

Drive

 drive

Nicholas Winding Refn’s noir cinematic version of the James Sallis novel Drive is an intoxicatingly brutal thrill ride, with superb stunts, minimal dialogue and hectic violence. Machismo has always been linked with knifes, guns and naturally cars symbolizing the American culture of survival, greed and the right to bear arms.

Drive is set in urban Los Angeles and follows the bizarre story of Driver played with a cool lethal charm by Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March, Blue Valentine) who befriends a next door neighbour sultry diner waitress Irina played by Carey Mulligan (An Education). Driver becomes the protector of Irina and her young son Benicio while the father is away in prison. Upon the father’s return, Standard played by Oscar Isaac (W/E) persuades Driver to help him out with one last heist of a pawn shop in the San Fernando Valley in a bid to pay off some protection money. The heist goes horribly wrong and much blood is shed and in a series of horrifically violent scenes, Driver goes to any lengths to protect the girl from the vicious mob boss Mr Rose played with an elegant urbanity by Albert Brooks.

Nicholas Winding Refn scooped the Best Director prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and upon a second viewing of Drive it is easy to see why. Each shot is gorgeously framed, from the car chases to the aerials shots of Los Angeles at night. As the first half of the film moves from a romance and some character building the second half of Drive is thrilling to watch with some unbelievable sequences especially the nefarious nightclub sequence whereby man’s capacity for violence is framed against beautiful shots of voluptuous strippers and Nino’s restaurant sequence whereby Driver donning the mask from his former stunt car driving days eerily takes a glimpse inside the pizzeria before preparing for the kill.

In the final sequence of the film, Driver in his blood spattered scorpion jacket, framed by a city skyline tells Mr Rose of the parable of the Scorpion and the Frog. Drive is pure 21st century film noir with just the skilful balance of violence, suspense and drama, making it one of the most engaging films about man’s obsession with cars and his primal need for violence and survival. Riveting and memorable, Drive also stars Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks and Bryan Cranston as Driver’s boss Shannon.

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