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How ‘Drive’ became a cult classic

Every year, the film industry pumps out hundreds of films. Many of those are entirely forgettable and only a small amount are praised by critics and nominated for important awards. Still, just a very select few of those films are talked about years after. Films that are impossible to shake off, to stop thinking about. And even when you’ve only seen them once, you’ll remember them years later.

Drive is one of those films. A small-budget film released in 2011, it starred some pretty big Hollywood names (Carey Mulligan, Ryan Gosling, and Oscar Isaac), which got the movie-goers’ attention. However, it wasn’t the acting –although amazing – that catapulted the film into cult classic status. After the theatrical release, the film was hailed by critics, but the audiences only gave it a C-. Drive was different from any action film they had seen before and they weren’t quite sure how to react to it.

But, with any good film, it left them thinking. And the more you think about Drive, the more you realise what a clever piece of art it is. The car-chase scenes focus on the intellectual reasoning behind the Driver’s actions, instead of just providing a mind-numbing thrill. We are invested in the why, something that becomes increasingly rarer in Hollywood action films.


On top of this, it is not the dialogue that (no pun intended) drives the film. The chemistry between Mulligan and Gosling is electric to watch and the actors chose to leave out most of their lines. They preferred instead, to focus on setting a mood for their characters. This creates such a distinct atmosphere to the film, that it becomes more an experience than just the retelling of a story.

Even when we look at the film in terms of solely the cinematography, we can see how thought out every single shot is. In the video below, it is perfectly explained how director Nicolas Winding Refn uses quadrants to compose four different stories within a frame. It is something you probably wouldn’t notice at a first glance, but unconsciously this has a huge impact on the viewer.

Lastly, the costumes, sets, and colours work together so incredibly well, that every single shot that we see is a work of art on its own. It makes the film mesmerising, and we are completely transformed into the world of the Driver.

After the film’s release, it became subject to many different analyses and studies and slowly but surely, the audiences grew to love and appreciate the film. So cleverly done, and so fascinating to pick apart, Drive was a film destined to be praised for years and years to come.

All film stills through FilmDistrict.

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