Friday, 30 December 2011


There is a curiosity at the centre of Drive. The main character, the protagonist, ably played by Ryan Gosling is never referred to by name throughout the film. He’s listed as Driver on the end credits. It’s as if he’s almost a non-person, certainly not a fully rounded character. This is not helped by him hardly saying a word and even showing any emotion on his face during the first half of the film. It’s as if he’s an unemotive Gary Cooper, making sure that he gets the job done.

We see him acting as a getaway driver in a heist where acting without emotion and taking cold logical decisions is a distinct advantage. Especially when avoiding police cars and helicopters. His lack of character makes it very easy for him to melt into the background when he delivers the criminals to safety and he disappears into a crowd.

After this escapade we see him work as a Hollywood stunt driver on film set. He executes a roll in a car and does this in an efficient manner, doing exactly what was asked of him. He shows great restraint when performing these tasks and employs a steely, decisive persona to ensure that he makes his choices in an unemotive and logical manner, as every driver should do.

Driving and cars seems to be his life. He has another job working as a mechanic. We don’t see him take part in any recreational activity, his apartment seems pretty bare. Things change though when he meets a woman who lives down the hall from him with her son. It soon becomes apparent that she’s waiting for her husband to be released from prison, which really limits their relationship. The connection with the woman and her son, however tenuous, leads him to make different choices and to act in a different way. This may be the nub of the piece, but it would be sad if the moral was; beware of emotional attachments, they’ll bring you down.

His problem with emotion, as it were, may be emblematic of him not being a fully rounded character. It may be as well that he ends up fulfilling the role of The Man With no Name, as if he’s driven to take up this role. The irony being that he’s called the Driver, but he loses control of where’s he going, what he does and therefore what happens to him. That’s life though, I suppose, that’s what eventually leads him towards the road to becoming a fully rounded character. Although he does end performing incredibly violent acts as well, and I do mean incredibly.

Friday, 16 December 2011


Deep in the woods, in Austria, is the Waldhaus hotel where Irene starts a job as a receptionist. She soon discovers that the girl she replaced, Eva, has disappeared. She finds Eva’s glasses in her room and after hers are broken she begins to wear them. Around her a number of unsettling events take place; on occasion it’s like when you see something out of the corner of your eye.

This film owes a lot to what has come before; there are references to Little Red Riding Hood and Alice in Wonderland. There are nods as well to Twin Peaks at times as well. It is a film that reveals clues and secrets that gradually fall into place throughout the piece. There are a number of symbols as well; doors, crosses, alarms and darkness.

There is as well a brooding malcontent in the hotel. No one seems to get along, which is evident right from the beginning. This may be due to the disappearance of Eva which would have left a pall over everyone. Poor Irene is parachuted into the middle of all of this and works hard to fit in. She tries this making friends and going to a club. This doesn’t save her from a general sense of isolation, in the hotel and in the woods.

I love the way this film slowly reveals what has happened and in a way what will happen as well. It is a story of great stillness, there is a lot said in looks and glances. It is an ambitious film in the way it deals with narrative, in that it doesn’t rely on dialogue to tell the majority of the story, it relies on the visuals. It also reminds you that if you go down to the woods today…