Taking a Chance on Drive

There are many lofty reasons to be fond of public libraries. Their promotion of literacy, the way they bring the community together, and, of course, ensuring access to all kinds of information. But there is another reason and it is one of my favorites: The ability to root around in pop-culture’s closet for free.

My latest example of this phenomenon is the 2011 film Drive. With the title suggesting one long car chase, it is not the kind of film that would normally pique my interest. Having read a review or two that mentioned its imminent cult status, plus only needing a library card to view it, I decided to give it a try.

Now there definitely is a car chase or two in the film, but don’t let that scare you off. Drive is essentially a quirky modern day film noir with 80s highlights. A nameless anti-hero, played by Ryan Gosling, works as a part-time stunt driver and hires himself out as a getaway driver for cash. As with all film noir, things eventually fall apart but not before he develops an attachment to a single mother (Carey Mulligan) who lives down the hall in their seedy apartment complex. There are also great supporting performances by Albert Brooks, as the lead villain no less, and Bryan Cranston, who will always be Mr. White from Breaking Bad to me.

While the plot description sounds pretty standard, the tone of the film is not. Dialog is kept to a bare minimum and the odd romance, comprised of lots of significant stares but not much else, is contrasted with the hyper-violence of the crime plot. Though I definitely liked the film overall, I must admit that I got a little lost towards the end and began asking myself questions like “Who is that guy, and why is he getting killed?”

Luckily, the library has the book the film was based on, Drive by James Sallis, to help me try and sort things out. With hardly a whiff of romance, this book is hard boiled and as straight down the line as they come. A quick read, at a mere 158 pages, it is stark and plot driven, but a lot of fun. If you want to continue the story, there is a sequel, aptly titled Driven, which has recently been published.

Are you a fan of 1980s synth music? Do you think it is perfectly acceptable to explain plot points with a montage and a cool song? If so you definitely want to check out the Drive Soundtrack. I would have sworn the bands were from the early 80s but they are all modern and hail from France, Montreal and Portland. Is it retro, a new trend or some odd version of nostalgia? Quite frankly, who cares? It is just freaking awesome to me.

So remember those lofty reasons for loving public libraries, but don’t feel ashamed to take a chance now and again. What have you got to lose?

Richard