The Seductive Melancholy of “Drive”

The Seductive Melancholy of “Drive”

It’s been 9 years since Nicolas Winding Refn gave us the arthouse neo-noir action film “Drive” which stars Ryan Gosling, who was looking for a more serious role after being a  heartthrob in “The Notebook.” Drive got audience viewers split because of its marketing. What was thought by many to be a mindless action-packed blockbuster flick was, in reality, a slow burn with plenty of musing moments.

“Drive” excellently nails the aesthetic of a lonely, contemplative, and melancholic ambiance of the city at night. Typically, the street of Los Angeles is placed under the bright yellow sun, but Drive explored it under the dim moonlight inside a beat-up 1973 Chevy Malibu that Ryan Gosling rebuilt himself while booming the ambient soundtrack on the stereo. 

A Nightcall

The first time we hear these engaging synths is after an intense opening chase scene involving the police that our nameless driver gets away from. After leaving the getaway vehicle, he drives his beloved Chevy and the emphatic electroclash “Nightcall” by Kavinsky pulses. We get some moody shots of Ryan Gosling in his car and when the bass drops, the title in pink boldly flashes on the screen. As the song continues, we get to see the small apartment the driver lives in. It feels more lonely than his car, so he goes out for a night ride.

We cruise into the night and contemplate the atmosphere that it has created. The moments when we felt so lonely yet so dazzled by the bokeh lights of cars, stoplights, and city lights put us in the passenger seat and allows us to dwell with the driver that we’ve been sitting with this entire night. 

I Do Nothing But Think Of You

The next instance that we get to wallow in beautiful sadness is when the driver tries to process the ethics and future of his blooming relationship with Irene. The heartbroken driver throws himself to work to try and forget his feelings for her. Meanwhile, Irene throws a welcoming party for her husband who just got out of prison. Her husband proposes a toast and dedicates it to her “Second chances are rare, and that’s worth celebrating. Salud!” These scenes contrast each other which makes it more heartbreaking to watch. The knife wound in our hearts enlarges while listening to the synthpop “Under Your Spell.” during these scenes. The foolish lyrics echo the hopeless romantic choices we’ve made in life.

“I don’t eat. I don’t sleep. I do nothing but think of you.”

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