The thing about cars in Los Angeles is that they stand in for much more than transportation. As a New Yorker, I don’t think I can understand the deep bond that forms between car and driver. Drive strips down a character’s identity to his action of operating the car. Even though the driver has scenes with human beings, and he looks genuinely fond of a boy and his mother, there is little real communication except for lots of meaningful smiles.
The driver likes LA basketball. He watches it, he listens to it, even when he is eavesdropping on the police radio so that he can tell how close he is to his final escape.The driver’s identity in the opening scene when he drives a getaway car for a couple of robbers shifts quickly when the police home in on them and he coolly walks away in a basketball cap and jacket.
Next he wears a police uniform so we think oh a law enforcer escaping the law, but no, he is an actor in a film, no a body double for an actor in a film, no a stunt double for an actor in a film. So he is a character within a character within a character. It would take a lot of digging to find out who he really was.
After just watching Martha Marcy May Marlene, whose main character’s identity is sketchy and finally unrevealed, watching this movie, with very slow takes on the actors, and lots of musical exposition, I wondered how much music videos have had an impact on filmmaking. Screenplays for these two movies were were really stingy with talk for the main characters.
Do modern young directors think that we don’t want meaningful dialogue any more? Do they think that music should stand in for words? Have we stopped speaking to each other in absorbing ways? Does language not count? Or is this just the feminist in me wondering what happened to the snappy actresses of old who had plenty of lines to say and said them with aplomb and were the reason to go to the movies.
As it is, we have Ryan Gosling, who is a pleasure to watch, and Carey Mulligan whose hair is always impeccably styled. Albert Brooks as a singularly bad man has all the good lines.