Driver: [on phone] There's a hundred-thousand streets in this city. You don't need to know the route. You give me a time and a place; I give you a five minute window. Anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours. No matter what. Anything happens a minute either side of that and you're on your own. Do you understand? - Drive (2011)
I am feeling better since last few days. Thanks to cinema which gives me so much whenever I want nothing but peace from life. I have watched some really good cinema coming from Hollywood this time. The year 2011 was a good year cinema wise because some actually good movies were released in that year. I could manage to see few of them though it’s a long list. The first movie which I chose to watch from the list was ‘Drive’ directed by Nicolas Winding Refn starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston. The movie is actually about this mysterious man who has multiple jobs as a garage mechanic, a Hollywood stuntman and a getaway driver and he seems to be trying to escape his shady past as he falls for his neighbor - whose husband is in prison and who's looking after her child alone (courtesy imdb). This movie managed to make me happy and even heal me in a certain way. As usual I was depressed that day without any particular reason. I was not expecting much from the movie because I knew nothing about it. Anyways, I started watching it. And believe me I am not exaggerating the reaction, the effect was really therapeutic. It was not the philosophy behind the story or anything spiritual of that sort which was curing the bug inside me. But it was the central unnamed character of movie the ‘Driver’ who had so much inside him which could be extrapolated and interpreted that it was truly doing marvels for me personally. This unnamed character has so much unexplained about him, which can be called a mystery that it almost transfixes the viewer throughout his presence in the movie. This is one of the most mysterious characters in recent years of cinema. Besides the writers Hossein Amini and James Sallis who have written the screenplay and the book respectively and this character in particular, a lot is contributed by the leading actor Ryan Gosling who adds the required charisma to this character. Right from the opening sequence he magnetizes you by his unusual temperament. He doesn’t reveal much about himself in any way nor are there any hints provided in the movie to make the job easier. The mystery is kept alive till the end leaving the viewer astounded and dumbstruck forever. In a societal sense he is not really a good man because he robs, he loots, he escapes from the cops, works for a bad boss and does all sorts of unlawful and precarious tasks assigned by him. But he is not a bad man either. He has a tough exterior but at the same time he does have a self-possessed appeal in his character. He is humane too. He falls for a married woman living in his neighborhood whose husband is in prison. He tries to make her happy and infuse essence in her mundane life. He cares for her son and becomes his pal. He is not very extrovert. He remains detached in a larger sense and doesn’t interfere in anybody else’s life. It seems as if he has attained peace with the larger conflicts of life and has nothing much to expect from it now. He seems to have risen above the trivialities and intricacies of life. The coldness with which he does all sorts of life threatening stunts and other similar tasks depicts that he doesn’t care much about his own life. He expresses quiet strength and is not afraid to die. Fear of death doesn’t appear to bother him in any manner. He is always face to face with death, staring and gauging its clout without any ambiguity. He seems invincible. And this is one of the main reasons why I am in awe of this character. But being introvert and detached doesn’t make him selfish either. He feels responsible for the woman he loves. Going out of the way he tries to help a man who is married to that woman. He even puts his own life at stake in this bargain and ends up making it thoroughly chaotic. We don’t come to know anything about his past and much about him either. He is completely impenetrable if you try to judge him in any manner. And neither does he tries to judge and breach anybody. Furthermore his subtle body language and expressions say a lot even when he is not saying anything. There’s some sort of distinct stillness and composure associated with his persona. His half-smirk and vacant staring eyes express a lot more than words could express. In a way he heals the viewer in an unassuming and unanticipated manner. And this is what exactly happened with me watching him doing all sorts of dangerous stunts, falling in love with that woman, playing with her kid, helping the man, brutally murdering the gangsters and turning his life into a disaster.
So the movie finally ended. But I kept wondering about the character. Who was he? Did he belong to this world? Why was he like this? What was his past? And what would be his future? Can anything really defeat him? Would he ever stop chasing his own death? This character would be remembered for many years to come for the mystery it manages to generate and the promise it ensures to fulfill.
The movie is really an extra-ordinary work of the director. It is thrilling and engrossing at one level and surreal and mythic at another. It is fun and sweet at one level and shocking and tragic at another. I haven’t seen such a movie which encapsulates every genre without belonging to nothing in particular. This movie speaks little but expresses volumes. It expects little but promises oodles. This is the beauty of cinema. It surprises you, defeats you, entertains you and gives you so much that you expect nothing more out of it.
The movie ended. But the character survived. In the movie also. And in my memory also. But finally I was cured. Cured of my depression and cured of the toxicity inside.