The Little Great Things of DRIVE

There are a lot of sweeping notions, techniques and people that make Drive an outstanding movie. The first-rate, always panning cinematography work of former documentarian Newton Thomas Sigel, who did great work with The Three Kings and the Usual Suspects. The dead on writing of Hossein Amini and the unbelievable 80s electronic soundtrack by Cliff Martinez featuring Desire, College, Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx and Riz Ortolani. All you have to do is talk to Colin about the growing greatness of director Nicolas Winding Refn.

We have lots of praise for Drive over here at List Off, all for different reasons. Here are some of the small nuances that made Drive superb in my eyes.

Possible spoiler material ahead.

The Driver Doesn’t Blink

Through 80% of the movie the Driver does not blink. This doesn’t come as a surprise if you remember the two staring contests he has with Benicio in the movie and his obvious extended stare in the car at the end of the movie. But in actuality he doesn’t close his eyes often through out the entire movie.

There are a few scenes when he blinks similar to a human being and most of these are with Irene.

Driver Doesn't Blink

The Driver Doesn’t Sleep

Cranston tells the Driver early on in the movie that he looks like a zombie and asks if he’s getting any sleep. He follows this up by offering different drugs that could keep him from sleeping and notes that Driver doesn’t drink caffeine. This tips off viewers that he won’t be getting any sleep for the entirety of the movie. In the morning he’s working (stunt or at the garage) and at night he’s either running heist jobs, working on parts for his car, driving around aimlessly or grabbing a small bite to eat at a 24/7 diner.

As the movie progresses you can see the ring under his eyes get darker and darker and his face shows the deprivation. In case you were wondering sleep-deprived individuals often feel enhanced physical impulses and are subject to extreme emotions and mood swings.

He doesn’t eat or drink either. Just one spoonful of ice cream and one gulp of water.

The Driver Clenches His Fists

If you aren’t blind you noticed the obvious scenes when the Driver was clenching his fists whenever he was wearing his gloves. There are other smaller incidences when he is seen clenching or otherwise touching his hands in a subtly aggressive manner. Although this isn’t quite a ‘little’ thing compared to others it had to make the list because it’s a good way for a director to show the brewing violence in a person without overtly stating he’s a possible sociopath.

The Driver Keeps His Hands Clean

He maintains a physical cleanliness to his hands by wearing his leather driving gloves when he needs to get down into the moral dirt. But, he still alludes to the psychological dirtiness of them by refusing Bernie’s initial proposal for a handshake. There are numerous shots of his clean or gloved hands and the Driver keeps them pristine until the end of the movie (and the almost end of him) when we are finally treated to a shot of the Driver’s bloody hands.

The Driver is the Scorpion

Right before the final confrontation of the movie The Driver relays the tale of the scorpion and the frog to Bernie. A fable that originally saw its first cinematic light in Orson Welles’ Confidential Report (aka Mr Arkadin). Allegedly.

In the story, a scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.” The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?” Replies the scorpion: “Its my nature…”

In this phone conversation, Bernie is trying to negotiate with the Driver to divert his vengeful rampage. The Driver is telling Bernie that he will not stop until one (more likely both) of them is dead by reiterating the fact that he is animalistic and impulsive by nature and he shouldn’t expect that to change before it’s over.

There are some other weird correlations with the figure of the nocturnal scorpion and the Drivers character. The arthropod lives in such hash environments they have adapted the ability to slow their metabolism to as little as one-third the rate for most arthropods. This enables some species to use little oxygen and live on a small amount of food. Even with lowered metabolism, the scorpion has the ability to spring quickly to the hunt when the opportunity presents itself.

The Driver is Unlucky

The movie is set up pretty early on when Cranston’s character is revealed to have terrible luck in business and in choice of associates. If you look at his tattoos early on you may notice the lucky Horseshoe tattoo that he has on the right side of his neck. If you didn’t see it early, you’ll get a good shot of it on his corpse when the Driver turns his head to reveal it clearly. It’s subtle irony done right.

They’re All Fucking Monkeys

This is the smallest plot point on the list of things that made this movie but helped secure this as one of my favorite movies. During the grocery scene Irene asks Benicio “who’s her little monkey.” There’ some banter between the two of them referencing who’s a monkey.

Later on during the ‘night’ side of the movie, Bernie is screaming at one of his associates and calls him a fucking monkey. I know it seems like nothing, but Bernie could have used any other expletive or derogatory term but he went with monkey.


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2 Comments on “The Little Great Things of DRIVE”

  1. 10.11.11 at 9:55 PM #

    Drive was quite a great movie.


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