Saturday, September 24, 2011

What Went Wrong

This is the first in what will be a (semi) regular posting about movies I’ve seen that just don’t quite make it.  And why.

Today’s subject will no doubt piss off a number a folks.  I’m talking about Drive.  Lots of buzz around this one, ever since its appearance on the festival market.  I was looking forward to it.  Looked cool.  A getaway driver is inherently cool.  Sadly, for me, Drive didn’t deliver.

For starters, I suspect there were some structural issues.  Hard to diagnose those on one viewing, particularly when I like to just watch the damn movie the first time.  But leaving that aside, the big problem for me - and I felt this as the movie unfolded – was the questionable motives and actions of almost every character in the film.  Here are just a few examples (spoiler alert):

- in the opening sequence, the driver (Ryan Goslin’s character is given no name) cleverly drops off the getaway car in the LA Convention Center garage as the Clippers game ends, thus eluding the police who are hot on his trail.   Except that he leaves the two robbers in the back with the dough, and we see the police entering the garage as the driver leaves.  How does he get paid and why does he not say a word?  Is he just happy driving and getting away?  Please.

- Irene (Carey Mulligan) goes on date with the driver days before her convict husband is coming home after being released.  Her kid is old enough to know what is going on.  Indeed, he tells his father (off-screen) about it.  No real repercussions.

-in the elevator of their apartment building, Irene and the driver descend along with a guy who is clearly there to kill both of them.  What does the driver do?  He kisses Irene long and hard.  Takes his time.  All after seeing the gun inside the assassin’s jacket.

-on the same subject, what does the assassin do while this is going on?  He watches apparently.  Pretty shitty assassin if you ask me.  Here’s his chance, and he’s thrown by the kiss?  Please.

-in the final battle, the driver agrees to meet with Bernie (Albert Brooks) in a restaurant.  OK.  Public place.  Makes sense.  But then he agrees to go out to the abandoned parking lot to give him the money which is in the trunk of his car.  He knows he’s going to be killed.  He tells Irene this a scene or two before.  So why do it?  Nothing prior to this shows him to be suicidal.  I guess because she doesn’t agree to go away with him he just gives up.  Really?  And then he allows himself to be stabbed in the stomach and kills Bernie and then leaves the money in the parking lot?  Right.  I get it.  He’s sacrificing himself to save Irene and her son.  That’s the deal Bernie offers, informing him that the Philly mob will kill him eventually.  Except the Philly mob has to know about Irene.  Bernie made her part of the deal. So what happens when they don’t get their money (hey, he left it in the damn parking lot!)?  How can he be sure they won’t touch her.  It’s the freaking mob! 

-continuing this muddled line of reasoning, the driver then gets in the car and drives away.  OK.  I get it.  He’s the driver and the movie is called Drive.  Deep.  Real deep.  Please.  Don’t make a movie that purports to be “authentic and real” and then have people act inauthentic and unreal.

I really wanted to like this one, but all those questionable actions and motives just annoyed me.  Sorry.  The driver pretends to care about the kid, but is the kid better off with a dead father, a dead driver, no money and the Philly mob about to show up at any time?  I guess to some it’s art.  To me it’s just pretentious.

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