Having enjoyed a cinema release that came with a carload of hype, and in the wake of some BAFTA nods and Oscar snubs, what better time to release Nicolas Winding Refn’s stylish Drive on DVD?

Seemingly designated THE cool film of 2011 (I agreed), the release allows fans a second viewing of the Ryan Gosling starrer, to see if it stacks up well on the second lap.

And if you missed it first time round, well, here’s your chance to correct that error.

Gosling’s Driver is a quiet, softly spoken moody type (the mean comes later), the type who loves the romance of being a stunt driver. He also seems to be a sucker for old-style romances, where the man is the strong, silent type, the rescuer. He sees himself as the avenger, his superhero garb a half-naff, semi-cool satin jacket with a scorpion logo boldly etched on the back, a jacket he seems permanently attached to.

These fantasies are realised when he moves into an apartment next to Irene (Carey Mulligan) and son. Cue long, meaningful looks as a growing romance is evinced by expression rather than dialogue.

Driver’s day job as a mechanic brings him into contact with some seedy types but then he’s comfortable with the darker side of life.

When Mulligan’s husband comes home and is being blackmailed, Driver’s protective instincts (and some would say psychosis) goes into overdrive and soon his day job is melding with his fantasy life as he tangles with some pretty nasty crims (including Ron ‘Hellboy’ Perlman’s Nino).

Gosling’s anti-hero protagonist isn’t the most sympathetic character, and there are plot holes but these are natural in a filmic sense. I want to be entertained not hit over the head with an overly complex plot.

The film is slow in places and should certainly not be described as an ‘action movie’, but when the violence does come along it is of the full-blown, bonecrunching variety.

Drive benefits greatly from its fine acting talent. Both Gosling and Mulligan evince sympathy despite their obvious character flaws and have you rooting for them throughout. Gosling in particular pulls off the restrained acting required and a raised brow here and a smirk there often speaks more than a ton of the clichéd type of dialogue you usually find in films of this ilk.

There is also a stunning soundtrack – a retro 80s synth score that is well worth a listen in its own right.

This film may not be for everyone. What I felt was finely nuanced may be seen as slow-moving and pretty eccentric for lovers of fast-paced action flicks. But for me, Drive is all the better for that – and still one of the best 2011 had to offer.

 

Extras: An onstage Q&A with Refn, a poster gallery and trailer

 

About The Author

Rhian is a freelance journalist and editor living in London. A film fan for as long as she can remember, her tastes cover the entire spectrum of cinema.