I’ve always been a huge follower of Refn’s films. Specially, I loved the whole universe he build around Coppenaghen’s slums in the Pusher trilogy with tons of action, bad sounding words and epic scenes. Refn felt comfortable in Denmark and the whole movies are a whole reflection of somebody that knows his turf and the bad guys that inhabit it; but, for some reason, he needed more and decided to jump outside the frontiers of his country. The result was Bronson, which even though had that classical Hollywood flavour, it also kept the Refn touch thematically and in an artistic way: in other words, tons of violence.
Then, one day, Cannes 2011 announces that Refn will take part in the competition with a movie called Drive. My first reaction was that the guy was in need of fast cash and decided to take part into a “cheapo” production but then I remembered we were talking about Cannes (like if that meant something nowadays).
Well, I was totally wrong because Drive has something. The filmmaking method used by Refn is there: cameras that move super close to the characters, shadows and more shadows, broken takes and everything we saw in other Refn’s films. Iconically, we will see a universe full of losers that pretend to be winners and winners that are actually losers, just like in Pusher II, but this time with the mandatory Hollywood sugar dose. Sure that Drive has a few scenes that will shock the viewer (specially if he doesn’t know Refn) but all in all the film is pretty mild.
One thing I particularly love about Refn is that he achieves what others just dream off: he makes you believe that the crap going on the screen is real. I am stating this, because the whole plot behind Drive is very similar to the one in movies like Jean Pierre Melville‘s Le Samourai or Jim Jarmusch‘s Ghost Dog and you can sense some kind of homage here: the solitary guy that almost doesn’t talk, a plot he ends involved in without almost knowing and the grand finale. However, Refn states that the homage is paid to Alejandro Jodorowsky, which personally I will have a hard time finding out why…
That said, Drive is a solid movie with a solid cast (Brian Cranston from Breaking Bad plays a fantastic role), solid scenes and a great synth-pop/electro soundtrack made by french artist Kavinsky. When Nightcall pops up during the opening credits in purple you will be like WTF but trust me: you’ll love it.