With the Oscar nominations announced last week, “Drive” has been at the forefront of my mind recently. The film easily claimed one of the top spots on my list of favorite films of 2011, and I was disheartened to see the film, Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, and director Nicolas Winding Refn snubbed. It did receive one nomination for its sound editing, however, and the soundtrack’s incorporation into the editing was an aspect that really caught my attention when I first saw the film. The soundtrack, and Refn’s directorial style work well together to create a world reminiscent of the 80’s and action films of the era while showcasing a decidedly modern world.
While the score of the film heightens many of the film’s scenes, it is the choice of licensed tracks that truly evoke an older school of films. Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” and College’s “A Real Hero” among others are fantastic songs in their own right, but the synth-laden, electro beats of both accompany beautiful overhead shots of Los Angeles or of Ryan Gosling’s unnamed Driver roaming the city. The opening credits, linked to above, use “Nightcall” to great effect to set the mood of the film.
Coupled with Gosling’s retro scorpion-emblazoned jacket, it’s easy to remember the time when the action star ruled the movie world. Aside from some of the cars, many of the settings have an aged, faded design. It never feels out of place, though; the décor isn’t a clichéd take on an earlier and simpler decade. The film beyond its aesthetic callbacks is a fantastic film, and while it has it’s share of overly graphic and bloody scenes, the film exudes an aura of cool rarely seen today, and it’s a joy to see the mesh of modern and vintage ideals work so well.