Genre: Crime, Thriller
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Music: Cliff Martinez
Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel
This high-acclaimed black noir of our era has accumulated “best-of-the-year” momentum ever since it garnered a Best Director honor for the Denmark prodigy Nicolas Winding Refn (from PUSH trilogy and DRIVE is his Hollywood premier) in Cannes last year.
The film exudes a drastically visual flare almost in every scene, from its one-of-a-kind camera angle, an utterly mind-blowing hue (a mesmerizing contrast between warm orange and ruthless shadow dark). The whole script is as corny as any hacks could write with eyes shut, a point-of-no-return road for a lone hero to save his beloved woman from danger. So plot wise, the film could be a thorough disaster, and here comes our virtuoso director to rescue the film and without embellishing the content, fully showcasing his theatrical aesthetics to fend off the fatigue of the tedious characterization (a taciturn Ryan Gosling can only be beneficial to his staunchest followers, while a dainty Carey Mulligan has too little to display her faculty), among the cast, if one doesn’t harbor a over-hyped expectation, Albert Brooks will be a fierily menacing discovery particularly it is creepily against his usual comedic strain.
Subtlety rules, several remarkable shots and tableaux (to wit: the hammer menace in the strip-club’s dressing room, the man with a creepy musk in front of the pizzeria before the slaughter with its consequent beach hunt at night and so on) are jaw-droppingly staggering and the violence showcase is harrowingly stylistic, the elevator scene could be on a par with the Gaspar Noé’s groundbreakingly grisly IRREVERSIBLE (2002). The film is going to be a classic cult not the least because of all the Oscar snubs it receives, which is confoundingly a congenial sign of its bright future both for the film itself and Mr. Refn’s professional career (the latter is even more uncanny regarding the recent vicious curse upon non-American new directors’ debut in Hollywood, Refn and Cary Fukunaga from JANE EYRE 2011 are the only jinx-breakers so far).
Ps. the hypnotic soundtrack is the ace, the ending-song COLLEGE’S A REAL HERO is the killing for me.