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Special cheers to Mike V who turned me on to Refn a while ago with his Pusher Trilogy.

I'm also a huge fan of Valhalla Rising and Bronson ;)


- tb


I really liked Valhalla Rising too. Now that’s a film that really splits opinions. You either like it or hate it, there’s no middle ground. It probably didn’t help that they tried to sell it like it was 300 or something, when it’s a quiet, occasionally brutally violent mood piece.


I can understand some of the negative reaction to Drive but I still loved the film. It felt like such a breath of fresh air. It reminded me of an early Michael Mann film in a lot of ways.

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I finally saw Drive. And I thought it was refreshing. While it was not like a Tarantino film, I was excited the same way I get excited when I'm in the theatre to see a Tarantino film. It definitly had its throwback moments but shit do I miss those moments in film nowadays. Those moments they give you to feel whats going on, not just react when it hits. Its films like this that make going to the movies special.


Loved Bronson and Vahalla Rising as well.

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This wasn't a character study though. It told us very little about about the individual characters. Almost nothing.


I respectfully disagree, my lovely lad ;)

And this next bit is not aimed at you, just my thoughts on the subject of character study and how I felt it worked with this film - SPOILERS -


The lead character is very internal. At first you don't know jack-ola about him so your brain starts asking the requisite questions. Is he a good guy, a bad guy?

I start getting behind him 'cause as the lead I'm hoping he's a good guy, or an anti-hero, yet as the film goes on we're still not sure.

In this respect I thought Gosling was reaching that same place that Pacino did in The Godfather.

You look at Pacino's face in that restaurant scene with Sterling Hayden (The Cop) sitting across from him - and up until the moment when Michael Corleone actually pulls out the pistol and guns down the cop you didn't know what the fuck he was going to do. The scene played on Pacino's face. Everything simmered underneath.

Gosling captured that intensity really well - and again, I've never been a big fan of his so I don't compare him to Pacino, lightly. And I'm really only comparing Gosling's performance here to A quality that Pacino possesses amongst his vast repertoire ;)


But I AM already off on a tangent ;)


I found myself always trying to guess what the character's real motives were. Was he just a lonely guy in search of a family - in search of something more to life - a guy in search of a HUMAN connection?

Or was their some darker purpose coiled up beneath.


In the end it's kind of both. Here was a guy that just wanted, hell, NEEDED that human connection. And I believe it took extraordinary amount of effort for him to put himself in a position to connect with someone.

He's safe when he doesn't have to emotionally need anyone else. So what does he do? Here's the paradox . . . He can't have what he certainly yearns for without giving up the safe existence.

Safe is a relative term. What was it that scarred him emotionally? He seems like the kind of guy who's lost everyone who ever mattered to him.

As the film begins he's a man trapped in that protective shell. Not caring, just going through the motions, trusting only the inanimate things that he CAN control.


The character's relationship dynamics shift in this film like the gears in the driver's car.

First he's an emotionless lost soul, then as he meets the neighbor lady and her boy he slowly but surely begins to soften.

He's attracted to her and slowly builds a father relationship with the boy, but he still hasn't let his defenses completely fall away. And a good thing too . . .

'Cause then the husband gets out of prison which adds a new dynamic . . . awkward at first as the husband suspects infidelity.

You really expect them to go toe to toe, forced by the husband's jealousy, but The Driver goes with the flow, seemingly accepts his role in the family dynamic.

Then reality steps in when we learn that the husband is still in trouble up to his eyeballs.

It's at that point that the Driver becomes the protector.

When that human connection he's been cultivating is threatened you see the sociopath that's been simmering under the surface begin to emerge.


That's a quick nutshell, but I felt like I learned a tremendous lot about the character, or at least all I really needed to know to draw the conclusions that made sense to me.

The character was at heart, a simple guy . . . caught up in some very complex variables.


My definition of -character study- isn't predicated upon being cued to everything there is to know about a character and his motives by the dialogue, exposition, or flashback looks into what made the character who they are, etc . . .

Study is the key word. If I have to really pay attention to all the nuances of a understated performance such as Gosling delivered to figure out who the character is, then to me that's a character study ;)

And I think in this case yes, the character is purposefully ambiguous so as to demand the audience work things out in their own minds, which to me makes for a more personal experience.


Action IS character, especially in this film. And we're not talking fight scenes and car chases. Action in this sense is more like, reaction.

I became riveted to the screen trying to figure this guy out.

It's really only when he reacts to a given situation that we see him making obvious choices that give us cues and insight into the character's psyche and personal agenda.

Other than that he's like an automaton simply going through the motions of daily life, stuck in the shit-end of a banal existence.

And I love the little key moments of the automaton, like when he's pulling into a parking garage with his eyes on two baddies (or was it just one guy at first?), clocking them . . . Attention completely on them as he pulls into a parking spot, not even looking at what he's doing, he's a part of that car, knows every shake, rattle, roll, and hum. The car literally pulls itself into the spot while the driver locks on the predator(s).


I don't know about the rest of you, but I learned A LOT about this guy just watching him.


To me that's an engrossing and certainly refreshing approach to the 'normal way' action and character play out on screen these days.

And perhaps it's simply that style of filmmaking, that separation from the norm that got my radar up where this type of story was concerned.

It wasn't about sitting back and being entertained - That would just be a different film - It was about becoming necessarily connected to what was happening on screen in order to suss it all out.

I wasn't just a passive onlooker, it took more work than that. And I LOVE that.

That's hard to do and do well. I thought Refn and Gosling were in perfect tune.


And Noeland - I'm just talking here, not saying you didn't notice any of this or that you didn't 'get it', no, not by any means.

I respect that you didn't enjoy this film. I guess it's just not the kind of thing that sets a sail to your mast ;)

All good. Differing opinions are essential, and are the juice by which we live and thrive!


As for Neil Marshall and Jackman . . . Yeah, if they'd have done this I'd have expected a much different film. More run of the mill action fare . . .

That is not to say it wouldn't have been fun, who knows?

I think The Driver as it is, is a film that will still hold up well in twenty years and will stand the test of time.



- TB

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I cannot express the whole movie as succinctly as many previous, but then again I'm just a comsumer who does not interact with that specifc work field.


Aka, I'm an engineer working for a manufacturing corporation, not someone who works with/in the film industry.


As such I will state what I believe.

I have to agree with those that felt it was a more "art" movie. It definitely was not mainstream and I also agree with Mr. Bradstreet that I really liked the characters.

My friends and I actually believed that Goslin's Character was Autistic to a point by his focus, difficulty in expressing himself and sudden emotional outbursts (kinda overdid it in the elevator, yes?).


If you went into the movie looking for a version of "Transporter" you would be sorely disappointed.

Great movie? Not IMHO. Good? Yea, I'd give it 3-3.5 stars outta five. Watch again in the theatre? No.

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  • 1 year later...

I finally saw this movie and ended watching two Nicholas Winding Refn films in one weekend - this one and Bronson.


I might have called it (The) Driver instead (sort of like The Professional) because it really is quite still and about him (and not speed or the impetus to drive like other films) but I just thought it was really cool and intense, and almost ruined by the 80s techno music but then I loved the Giorgio Moroder / Paul Schrader feel of it.


Ryan Gosling is swiftly growing on me (Crazy Stupid Love, Blue Valentine ... ) :)

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I thought the music blended in well. It was part of the character. Or, a dark, violent John Hughes film, take your pick ;) If you get a chance, read the book. There are similarities, but it's quite diffent. The Driver talks quite a bit. It's a fast read. I see there is a book sequel out now. Might have to check that out sometime.


I feel the same, Ryan is someone who is making some interesting film choices. I think he could easily fall into the romantic lead and make a ton of money doing, but he'd not going that route, and I'm glad. I wrote him off after The Notebook, but films like Half Nelson, Blue Valentine, Drive, Only God Forgives... he's not out to become a standard Hollywood lead.


Refn has become one of my new favorite directors. I still need to see the Pusher films, but I have seen the rest. You really should check out Valhalla Rising. If you dig that, I'd recomend renting Only God Forgives. It's on PPV now.

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