The elegance of “Drive”
In a superb post on his blog “Cinema Styles,” Greg Ferrara likens the visuals of movies like “Hugo” and “Avatar” to Thomas Kinkade paintings: bright and glowing, but lacking any formal elegance or visual ideas beyond being really shiny. Let it be known: I liked both of those films. I just thought neither was all that good-looking, despite the swarms of visual Oscars that both won.
Watching “Drive” again the other day (it might have been my favorite film of 2011) I was struck by how damn elegant the movie is. Its actions move forward, clean and taught. Individual shots contain enough information for us to glean what’s happening and guess what will happen next, but are still artful and without clutter.
Look at the opening of the film’s first chase scene, for example:
So much action in the movies assumes that movement is entertaining in and of itself. “Drive” is a film that understands that buildup can raise the heart rate as much as action, and that letting the viewers actually see everything that’s happening on screen can be helpful in maximizing our level of entertainment.