Article Title
Article Title

Drive

by Jake Mynatt

He's a loner. He wears a stone face to mask his vulnerability. It's not that he's not strong; he can be when he called upon. But there's a lingering sadness, a desperate need to connect.
 
Of course, that's because Gary, whose house I am currently occupying the walls of, had finally succumbed to the understanding that his life is at a standstill. When Edgar, the brother of Gary's ex-girlfriend Penelope, called him looking for a place to crash for a few days, Gary didn't so much say "yes" as he neglected to prevent Edgar from being sucked into the collapsed star of his need.
 
That was six months ago.
 
What Edgar lacks in employment -- and personal hygiene -- he amply makes up for in contraband. It just so happened that this particular night, Edgar got his hands on a bootleg copy of Drive. Odors and odd sounds notwithstanding, Edgar had finally made a positive contribution to my happiness.
 
And so we have our hero, known only as "The Driver". That's all you need to know. He drives. He's a man who lives in two worlds, and is the best there is in both. One side is as a Hollywood stunt driver, the other is as a getaway driver. He makes no judgments.  He’s merely selling you his time and expertise. He's a professional.
 
I was hooked in by the opening sequence: tightly framed within the confines of the car. , the silence of the Driver as he takes in and processes what he sees and hears. To watch someone so good at what they do is gratifying in its own way. So when Edgar shouted "Come on!  Let's get some explosions up in this bitch!" the sudden punch I threw into the wall was one born of the frustration of that aborted moment. I'm usually not a violent guy.
 
What concerned me is that Gary didn't move a muscle at the sound. Edgar wrote it off as "friggin' rats in the walls". Luckily, my concern for Gary's mental well-being, and for how Edgar may one day decide to deal with the rats, was soothed by the hypnotic lure of this film.
 
The Driver meets the Girl, named Irene, played sweetly by Carey Mulligan. Her beauty is met by his stony stare, which Ryan Gosling is skillfully able to work like it was dialogue. He helps her and her son out when her car won't start. He gives her a ride home. A new world for him. And in this world he's once again the Driver. Only now he finds himself wanting to be more. It’s a deviation from his routine, but he welcomes it.
 
So much is unspoken in their courtship, but so much is communicated. In those silences, Edgar found it to be the ideal time to inform Gary that Penelope, Gary's one time true love, had recently undergone a breast enlargement.  And with that, Gary folded like a blubbering futon.
 
Edgar went on to describe what he referred to as “incredible chesticles”, and Gary's emotional response was a series of ejaculated snarfles and agonized yelps. This proved to be too much and Edgar extricated himself from the situation with an utterance of something about having to run down to the gas station for some scratch-offs and the latest copy of "Bodacious Ta-Tas".
 
Among the enjoyments of the film are the supporting performances. The shifty, scheming, strangely well-meaning Driver’s boss Shannon, played by Bryan Cranston. The conflicted and angry mobster Nino played by Ron Pearlman.  And then we have Albert Brooks, playing the malevolent Bernie Rose. It's not often you can say that Albert Brooks is the most menacing guy in a film packed with menacing people. His upbeat and oddly positive manner is off-putting. When he kills you, it's just business, so there's a courtesy in how he does it. This is an Oscar worthy performance.
 
Equally Oscar-worthy was Gary's performance as he embarked on a drunk-dial odyssey fueled by grain alcohol and a need to convince Penelope that her newly-enhanced bosom was somehow a signal to him that she was interested in rekindling their love, and, oh yeah, he didn’t care if he ever saw her again. He’s a man of contradictions, that Gary. Usually it’s more of a red-wine-with-fish kind of contradiction, but I’ve always seen him as a work in progress.
 
Gary took his call into another room, as he was too drunk to know how to turn the volume down on the television. I was free to absorb this film without interruption; save for the occasional howl of agony from the other room. Knowing Penelope, she had dropped the bombshell that a majority of her orgasms had been faked. As a wall dweller in Gary's home, and an admirer of the craft of acting, I can attest to this fact.
 
The sweet romance between the Driver and Irene would dissolve under the weight of her husband's arrival, fresh out of prison. However, the complication the husband brings reaches far beyond a seeming love triangle and soon pulls the Driver into a heist. The Driver is called upon to drive once more, all to save the life of his romantic rival.
 
This complication adds such a jolt of tension and adrenaline to the story that Edgar may very well have actually paid attention. By this point I figured he was in the parking lot of the local gas station, his fingernails crusted with silver scratch-off dust and a rolled up breast enthusiast magazine in his pocket as he waited for high schoolers to come along and offer him ten bucks to buy them beer. Shady, yes, but income is income.
 
There are turns in "Drive" that you see coming, and some you don't. That steely silence that lures you in is abruptly shattered in spots. It's a character study in loneliness and longing, with a film style so evocative that even the many C-words that Gary drunkenly threw at his ex over the phone couldn't derail me. The film had me like a fish on a hook, and that thrill of being pulled in was intoxicating. As it reached its conclusion, I understood without question I would need to watch it again.
 
Gary managed to stumble in as the credits rolled to an 80's style synth-pop song.  The vocals of the song cry out about wanting to be a "real hero, a real human being".  So strong a notion that Gary found himself drunkenly singing along, singing it out to the universe. He wouldn't let his loneliness keep him silent as it had the Driver.
 
And the Universe seemed to answer in the form of a knock at the door. Penelope had come to confront him on his harsh accusations. He brought her into the living room and babbled on to her that he was a real hero, a real human being. He cried and begged. He had no definition. He occupied no worlds and he needed to occupy hers or he might simply fade away.
 
She allowed him to talk himself to exhaustion, and he soon fell asleep. The most merciful move she could have made. Certainly more merciful than she had been in the balance of their relationship.
 
Snoring his way to a hangover, Penelope left Gary alone once more. Not a hero, but at least a human being. With desperate wants and unfulfilled desires so real that they were becoming his only defined world. Gary could no longer wear the mask as The Driver had. Bare and raw, Gary had become real.
 
Unlike Penelope’s breasts. Edgar wasn't lying. Those puppies got huge.

Jake Mynatt is a writer, pretty much in the same way Charles Manson is a singer/songwriter. By trade, he's a computer guy. He's married, and loving it so much he hopes to start dozens of secret families all over the country. That's just a joke, unless you're interested. Send headshots and a signed pre-nup to jake.mynatt [at] theinclusive.net