While watching the movie Drive, I realized two things:
1) Ryan Gosling is too good looking. It’s really just not even fair to ordinary schlubs like me that there should be a living, breathing work of art like Ryan Gosling walking around. And it doesn’t help that the movie consists entirely of him fixing his steely blue eyes on things in the middle distance and contemplating them for long periods of time, wearing a neutral or maybe slightly perplexed look on his beautiful goddamn face. The fact that Christina Hendricks, of all people, was also in this movie led to some pretty sexually confusing moments when they were sharing a scene and I found myself wanting to bone everybody onscreen at once.
2) As a car chase movie, Drive fails pretty hard.
I am not the only person who feels this way – recently, Michigan filmgoer Sarah Deming filed a lawsuit against both Drive’s distributor and the theater where she saw Drive, alleging that she’d gone to see the movie because it had been marketed as an action packed car chase film, and had suffered ‘damages’ when it turned out to be a brooding character study.
Now, it’s not in my nature to agree with somebody in the Midwest who files a lawsuit about something, but in this case I can see kind of where she’s coming from.*
*That said, I’m not going to go so far as to claim I suffered ‘damages’ from watching a movie that I didn’t enjoy. It’s actually pretty disturbing to me that America has gotten to the point where boredom and disappointment constitute ‘damages’ in a legally binding sense – this is yet another problem that I think could be solved by electing Louis C.K. god emperor for life.
I never saw any trailers for Drive – I watch all my TV online, and the online TV commercials I see seem to be exclusively for Yoplait Light, car insurance, Chevy Trucks, and feminine hygiene products, presumably because something about my viewing habits has led Hulu to believe that I’m a health conscious lesbian rancher from Missouri.
What I did see, though, were billboards for Drive plastered up all over the route I took to my internship, and the gist of the movie seemed pretty clear cut. For those of you who didn’t see the billboards, they consisted of a picture of Ryan Gosling sitting behind the wheel of a car, his 20 foot tall face gazing out over La Cienega Boulevard like a benevolent, impossibly handsome god.
What I took from the billboards was:
1) Being as the movie is called Drive and has Ryan Gosling sitting in a car, it’s presumably a movie about driving cars.
2) I want Ryan Gosling. In every sense of the word.
3) The retro font on the billboard suggested that Drive was a throwback to classic 70s car chase movies like Vanishing Point and Gone In 60 Seconds.
4) Look, it’s not weird that I want to bone Ryan Gosling – it’s weird that you don’t. Look at him. LOOK AT HIM.
5) Given the contemplative look on Ryan Gosling’s unspeakably perfect face, there’s probably some complex moral themes at work in this movie.
6) Look, I’m not gay. I’m not even bisexual. I just happen to be gay for Ryan Gosling and only Ryan Gosling. Other than that, I’m 100% straight.
7) Okay, Ryan Gosling and Jon Hamm. Other than that, I’m straight as an arrow.
So, last week, when I finally got a chance to watch Drive, I went into it expecting an actiony drama featuring a healthy amount of Ryan Gosling. And I’ll tell you, in terms of Ryan Gosling being in the movie, Drive delivered in spades. A+ on that.
However, I can say, without spoilers, that there are two – count them, two – relatively brief car chases in Drive. One of them is at the beginning of the movie, and one of them is about halfway through. Please allow me to explain why this is bullshit:
The Blues Brothers was a movie about a couple of stoic soul musicians on a god-given quest to save a Chicago orphanage. It is wall to wall car chases, in spite of the fact that it’s a comedy musical. I mean, it could’ve just as easily been a great movie if the whole thing was a love letter to soul music with cameo appearances from icons of the genre, but somehow John Landis found time to crash an Illinois State Police cruiser into a moving semi and drop a station wagon full of Nazis off a highway overpass, and it was awesome.
Drive is a movie about a guy who is a stunt driver for the movies by day, does some stock car racing for a hobby, and is highly sought after as an incredibly talented getaway driver by night, and the movie is wall to wall slow motion shots of him hanging out with the woman who lives down the hall from him, or looking across rooms, or listening to techno. It’s a movie about a stoic, silent, heroic protagonist who is wholly defined by his ability to drive, and we see him doing it twice. I don’t want to spoil the climax of the movie, but I’ll tell you, it doesn’t end with driving.
Remember how Star Wars ended with Luke disregarding the Force and engaging in a pattern of nonviolent protests against the Empire? No? That’s because it didn’t happen, because even a shitty writer like George Lucas knows that in a script called Star Wars it had better end with a war in fucking space. Drumline ended with a drumline battle, Chinatown ended in Chinatown. Why did Drive not end with driving!? THAT SEEMS LIKE A NO-BRAINER.
We give movies titles so that people get an idea of what the movie is about before they see it. In a good movie, the thing that it’s about is dealt with throughout the film until it’s climactically resolved at the end. I don’t see how the movie about a guy whose only passion is driving could end with him doing anything other than that.
And I’m not saying that Drive should’ve swapped character development for action – I’m saying they should’ve either swapped any number of meandering scenes where people look at each other without saying anything in favor of a couple more car chases, or changed the title to Ryan Gosling Looking At Things. Honestly, if they’d called it that, I probably would’ve seen it sooner.
Truman Capps could write a whole 'nother blog about how Christina Hendricks should've had a way bigger role in Drive, preferably with wall-to-wall nude scenes.