Drive is a throwback to every mid-to-late '80s character-based action film like William Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A. or Michael Mann's Thief. It makes the city of Los Angeles just as much of a character as anyone while exploring the hidden nooks and crannies of a city that never gets shot like this anymore. Director Nicolas Winding Refn shoots L.A. like it's a crumbling empire, still at the height of its power, yet rotting underneath its façade. Anyone who is interested in the language of film should study Drive as well as the earlier works of Refn like his Pusher trilogy, Bronson and Valhalla Rising. This guy is our next Kubrick, Cronenberg and Peckinpah rolled into a hyper stylized ball of genius.
Irene is Driver's neighbor who is raising her son by herself while her husband is in jail. When Driver first meets her, it's also the first time he smiles or says more than two words, and his easy rapport with her son shows us that maybe he can be more than just Driver and maybe he wants to be. He could also be Lover or Father or Partner, he could have a connection with another human without getting hurt.
I won't give away any more than I already have other than to say that this is a modern masterpiece. The level of performances by Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston is unmatched so far this year and it's easily the most well-directed film we've seen in a long while. If you go in expecting Fast and the Furious, you will be disappointed. This is an art film disguised as an action flick. It moves at its own pace and allows you to keep up, but never looks back to see if you're still following.
Starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks and Oscar Isaac. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Rated R