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.

4 responses to “Drive

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! Definitely in my number 1 spot for the year. I totally agree with you about the incredible score as well. I thought it gave the film such a unique yet familiar style. To me it was a modern western in a way. It really took me back to Segio Leone’s films like The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Just a movie about a man, his ride, and everything that comes in between. Classic!

  2. Love Martinez’s score; very Vangelis. I don’t think there was a single shot that wasn’t beautiful in its light, color, and sound (not to mention Gosling and Mulligan). It’s the kind of film that will be remembered (the “elevator scene”? – classic) despite the awards, so don’t feel too bad.

    I like its use of silence. There were many funny moments between Gosling and Mulligan that had no spoken dialogue but still had a sort of hilarious progression. It’s a film with serious questions that never takes itself too seriously, which is super commendable these days in an “action” flick.

  3. One of the best movies this year; I absolutely agree! It is both fresh, yet maintains this retro, nod to the 80’s which is aesthetically playful and just really, really pretty. Gosling’s character exhibits a deeply complex sense of identity, and even mental illness due to his inability to connect with other members of society (except for his connection with Irene and her son). Love the soundtrack, too! Thanks for this post!

  4. Drive had a number of ’80s throwback references – you hit the nail on the head with its synth-pop score. However, perhaps the most blatant ’80s theme wasn’t even in the film itself, but its marketing. With the neon-pink lettering of its title and the emphasis on the scorpion-etched jacket, the film’s posters made Drive look like a cross between Pulp Fiction and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Instead, as a number of other people here have said, it turned out to be the best film of 2011.

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