9 out of 10 times when you go in to watch a movie there’s a pretty small number of things that you can expect to happen. when i watched “i don’t know how she does it” i knew what to expect; and this is by design. we know the stars, we know what they do, and we can expect a certain kind of entertainment. sarah jessica parker is a working mother so we know we’re going to have some pro-women’s rights stuff, probably some voice over narration to make the transition nice and seamless for the sex and the city crowd, some tough times, a little romance and naughty sex stuff, and, ultimately, some triumph. we’d be surprised, for example, if she fell into a deep depression and went on a killing spree or if she divorced her (good and doting) husband and didn’t regret it. we’d be shocked if she shirked her duties as a mother. movies are like life in that they’re fairly predictable if you’ve been around the block once or twice. well, drive isn’t like that so much.
watching drive was kind of like watching pulp fiction for the first time. i’m not saying that this is on that level, it really isn’t. but when watching both i felt like anything could happen. you’re on a ride. as the film is capable of anything, so is the eponymous character. gosling has come into his own since half nelson came out a few years ago. he’s a real actor in a world of mere characters.
i wasn’t entirely thrilled by casey mulligan. where gosling didn’t show his cards came off as mysterious and like the proverbial river whose current runs deep, mulligan’s vacancy was more puzzling than mysterious. what’s she thinking, what’s she doing, what’s her story? obviously she’s in a dead end relationship with her husband, but what drives her? is she just floating along like a leaf on the water or what? it would have been good to know her more.
i also felt like refn held back a bit. refn’s pusher trilogy is the thing of legend among certain circles, but this is his first american film. the opening scene is perfectly understated and probably the best opening scene of the year. it’s both what the film was and wasn’t quite. there’s a latent power aching to be unleashed in this film and i felt like it never really reached that. it’s like the tron soundtrack – great, but could have been epic.
unfortunately a film like this just won’t play well with american audiences. it’s a great film with a lot of power just under the surface, but it’s not the kind of action that people expect these days. it’s not a michael bay film with 15 minute long action sequences. it’s got bursts of intense horror and action (which got my audience audibly disturbed) followed by long breaks of the relatively prosaic. it’s an exercise of tension and that tends not to work round these parts.Watched in theater