There is a HUGE cult following for the movie Drive starring Ryan Gosling and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, that is hitting the 10-year anniversary mark. I have to emphasize that this is a cult favorite because it didn’t get a very wide release. I should specify, it didn’t make its way to the DFW suburb theaters to be exact. My experience with the film didn’t even begin until about 5-years after its release. A friend of mine had told me he loved it and I should see it. So, like a good friend, I did. Wow. Just wow. It’s an action movie that has something deeper to say. It talks about how a man wants to be the hero so badly, that he is willing to do evil to become the hero. Here’s the thing, not everyone has seen it, and I’m not going to be the one to spoil it. The movie is just SO good.
I could sum up this movie as saying: A getaway driver falls in love with his neighbor and her son. But after her husband returns from prison, Driver gets called to help the husband pull off a huge heist to pay back some people he owes money. That doesn’t really do it justice though. I think the plot is more than just a plot; it’s a character analysis on morality. It’s about how Hollywood has framed the hero as the person that does a few good things, and Driver wants to be this hero. Driver comes into a romantic relationship with his neighbor Irene, but it’s not just a simple relationship. She has a child named Benicio and who looks up to Driver as a surrogate father figure because Irene’s husband is in jail at the beginning of their relationship.
Once the husband returns, Driver takes on the role of wanting to keep Irene and Benicio in his life, so he becomes a family friend; doing what it takes to keep them in his life, even if it means befriending his romantic enemy. Driver wants to be the Hollywood hero so badly that even when he is only just beginning to find what it means to be a daily hero, he decides to pull into the Hollywood character of a “hero” instead. Honestly, I think this movie feels similar to The Great Gatsby in that you can return to the world and the character again and again, finding something new to love and learn every single time.
Does it Hold Up Though?
Look, the reason you clicked this article isn’t because you liked the movie then, but if the movie will hold up after 10-years. I mean so much has happened in a decade that could easily skew the original meaning behind the movie. That’s why I watched it again to really see if it holds up. After a decade that gave us the second term of the first black president, followed by the polarizing Donald Trump, escalating racial tensions, and a freaking world wide pandemic, a movie can be a welcomed distraction.
I wouldn’t really call this movie a good “distraction” though. Drive is, instead, a violent and entertaining movie that is a huge commentary on the duality of man, motivation, and what it means to be a hero. I mean, I guess you could just escape to the messed up world that Drive gives the viewers, but it seems a little reductionist to do that. My biggest draw to this movie is that it will always hold up. There you go! There’s the answer you even opened this article to find! Drive absolutely holds up, and likely always will.
Probably because I enjoy keeping up with politics, I couldn’t help but think about the current state of politics and race relations in America while watching this movie. Drive gives the perspective of the main character always trying to do the right thing for Irene and Benicio, but absolutely the wrong thing morally. This moral conundrum might also be seen as worsening his relationship with the love interest and the child. I kind of see this as being what’s been going on in the world. Though people have a good cause, they can be seen to go about it the wrong way. In the modern age of social media, it’s so easy to “go viral” and people will often go a little crazy to get famous/popular in the name of their good cause, despite how it will also put off a lot of people.
This may always be a relevant film because of this choice. In the movie, Driver can easily just stick to doing good things. Instead, he is a getaway driver for criminals. He helps this woman with her child, then helps her returning husband with a crime. The movie is constantly questioning what the “right thing” is for the greater good. This question will continually show up in life, so it should be continually addressed in art. If you haven’t seen this movie before, you should see it now. It’s one of those that will require multiple viewings to really get the bigger picture. Be prepared to watch it at least once a week for a month before fully being able to understand the movie…or just watch a ton of YouTube videos and read analysis to get a better grasp on the film.