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Movies Review

Drive (Cannes 2011)

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Driver (Ryan Gosling) and Irene (Carey Mulligan) from 'Driver
Lars von Trier may have caused the biggest stir at this year's Cannes Film Festival, but his fellow Dane Nicolas Winding Refn arrived quietly to introduce his latest film Drive. Just as Refn brought an off-kilter slant to the biopic with Bronson, here he teams up with Ryan Gosling for a thriller with a distinct European flavour. Drive follows Gosling's unnamed protagonist as he's drawn into the criminal underworld through a tentative romance with the married Irene (Carey Mulligan). The set-up is run-of-the-mill Hollywood, yet it doesn't do the film justice - Drive is a brutal, tender and outrageous genre mash-up.

Gosling plays a toothpick-chewing hero who's more comfortable behind the wheel of a car than in conversation, a tough guy in the vein of a young Clint Eastwood or Steve McQueen. By day he's a Hollywood stunt driver working with Bryan Cranston's Shannon, by night he gives crooks a five-minute window to leap into his getaway car and speed away with their loot. A botched robbery with Irene's husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) brings him to the attention of the villainous Nino (Ron Perlman) and Bernie (Albert Brooks), leading the protagonist to set out on a revenge rampage against LA mobsters.

Refn's art house sensibilities are at odds with Drive's generic premise, but they lend a surreal, feverish edge to the unfolding events. These tonal gear changes - from romance to ultra-violence, father-son story to crime drama - are certainly more satisfying than the clumsy approach in Jodie Foster's The Beaver. Refn's utilises a synth/ambient soundtrack to support his precise visuals, which ditch blockbuster fury in favour of amplifying gunshots and souped-up car engine revs for maximum impact. Drive is a stylish mainstream thriller infused with moody Scandinavian spirit. Gosling and Refn are reportedly planning to reunite on a remake of Logan's Run. On this evidence, the results could be spectacular.


> Watch two extended clips from Drive
> Ryan Gosling's Drive: In Pictures
> Cannes Film Festival complete coverage

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