If I had to point out two trends in arthouse cinema this year, it would be the near fetishization of atmosphere and mood (THE TREE OF LIFE, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE) and a dogged commitment to minimalism (MEEK’S CUTOFF). DRIVE has both in spades. Oh, and it has Ryan Gosling, so no wonder it’s been the closest thing to a mainstream success the arthouse scene has had this year (Woody Allen doesn’t, and will never, count).
DRIVE is the very definition of style over substance, but when it’s THIS stylish and with such a uniquely informed sense of style (hey, look at all the hipsters blasting the soundtrack!), it’s really hard to care. The story and characters are so simple (minimal, if you will) that so many different allegories could be layered about it. Was it laziness or genius that inspired the choice? Who’s to know. But where thin-ness of plot is aggravating in a majority of circumstances, here, it just moves out of the way of the copious atmosphere while, contradictorily, the fable-like quality of the plot allows the audience to give it all the depth they want without the writers mucking it up.
And then, in probably the most brilliant aspect of DRIVE, there’s the violence to offset the retro-cool, synthline vibe of the rest of the movie. The violence here is as violence should be: shocking, sudden, messy, nauseating. It’s certainly my favorite part of the movie. Violence has become incredibly boring to me in films lately. It’s not that I’m desensitized (I don’t think), it’s that violence usually equals laziness (or exploitation) among filmmakers. Violence should not be easy. It should be tough, brutalizing, disruptive, corrupting. I think DRIVE gets that right (see also: CACHE and A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, among others), and it’s easily the most arresting part of the film.
Oh, and just by watching the movie, you feel like a badass when you walk to your piece of shit car.
HURRY UP, WE’RE DREAMING
MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE
UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE’S DECEPTION
THE SKIN I LIVE IN
Also, don’t forget to check out my personal Tumblr over this-a-way: http://thenatwistercomes.tumblr.com. It’s bound to hold more interest to you than whatever pretentious movie I just watched (and by just, I mean months ago).
- zoetropia posted this