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Everyone. Must. See. Drive.

This movie draws you in slowly–you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into–and begins to get you attached to the characters: the stoic unnamed “Driver”, the fragile and tragic Irene, and her husband and ex-con Standard.

However, when a pawn shop robbery goes bad, this movie pounces into action and starts a chain reaction of violence that shakes up the characters’ lives worse than a Los Angeles earthquake.

Driver is the knight, protecting Irene the damsel in distress from Nino, the ruthless crime lord; and the astounding cinematography, minimalist soundtrack and creative use of slow motion sequences makes you feel like you’re in a dream.

Set in LA. this film follows a man with no name “Driver,” reminiscent of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns. A stunt driver and garage mechanic by day, he moonlights as a wheelman for the LA crime scene by night. Driver and his neighbor Irene begin to develop a romantic relationship, but after a week of courtship, her husband Standard is released from jail and returns home.

Immediately, people from Standard’s criminal past show up demanding protection money owed before prison and threaten Standard and his family. Driver steps in and offers his service to help Standard get the money.

The cast—featuring Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Ryan Gosling, Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks—does an outstanding job and gives so many levels to each character. After seeing this film, it’s hard to believe that Ryan Gosling is the same actor that starred in “The Notebook.”

His character, both extremely violent and childishly naïve, stoic and capable of deep emotions, drives the movie and keeps the audience guessing about his true nature.

It’s no wonder that Swedish director Nicolas Refn was able to garner Best Director at Cannes Film Festival this year as he, along with cinematography genius Newton Thomas Sigel, deliver a near perfect movie.

For an action movie you might expect high octane shoot outs, shape-shifting alien robots and CGI explosions, but “Drive,” thankfully, has none of these. “Drive” is grounded in reality, it’s characters are real people and the violence gives it true grit that not many films can attain.

The film, however, might alienate some casual movie goers with a plot that’s slow to develop, very little dialogue (Gosling only utters around forty lines throughout the movie), periods of silence and unabashed violence.

If you can get past that, you’ll find a real gem of a movie that will provide a great relief from the sea of stale and uninteresting movies that Hollywood keeps throwing our way.

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