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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Drive

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) -- You'll need a good road map to navigate the plot twists and turns of "Drive" (FilmDistrict), a dark, introspective drama about a self-absorbed loner who lives for the open road but unexpectedly finds his conscience along the way.

Despite stylish direction from Nicolas Winding Refn ("Valhalla Rising"), "Drive" ultimately suffers from an identity crisis, unable to decide whether it is an action movie, a love story, a slasher film or a morality tale. Turns out it's a little bit of everything.

Ryan Gosling portrays the driver, who is aptly called Driver, a man of few words but master of the long, penetrating stare. His coolness quotient is off the charts, reminiscent of a young Steve McQueen.

By day, Driver has two jobs: He's a stunt car driver for action movies, and he fixes cars at the auto body shop run by Shannon (Bryan Cranston).

By night, Driver and Shannon show their true colors, running heists around Los Angeles. Driver is the getaway driver, considered the best in the business.

His wheels? A souped-up Chevy Impala. "It's the most common car in California," Shannon says. "No one will be looking for it."

Not content with petty crime, Shannon buys a race car, and is determined to make Driver a star. He seeks the backing of two mob bosses, Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks), a washed-up film producer, and Nino (Ron Perlman), whose Italian restaurant (which serves Chinese food) is a front for organized crime. Soon, Shannon learns that neither mobster is particularly interested in an honest living on the NASCAR circuit.

Meanwhile, "Drive" shifts gears, as Driver takes notice of his new high-rise neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her adorable son, Benicio (Kaden Leos). Something stirs in Driver, and soon he is part of the family, experiencing a kind of domestic bliss. Good thing Irene's husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is away in prison.

Just when "Drive" should be heading off into a happily-ever-after (if immoral) sunset, the film takes another turn. Standard is sprung and comes home, determined to make life better for his family. One thing, though: He still owes the mob money, and is beaten to a pulp. Driver takes pity on him, and offers to arrange one last heist, which will raise enough to put Standard and his family on the straight and narrow.

Of course, the road to redemption is never straight, and "Drive" takes off in yet another unexpected—and shocking—direction.

"Drive" is determined to make Driver, despite his flaws, a sympathetic character. While his concern for innocent victims is laudable, the violence he uses to exact justice is not. His moral compass is badly skewed and veers him off the correct path.

The film contains brutal bloody violence and gore, upper female nudity and frequent rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.

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