Drive Driver, doing his jobs, as cold and emotionless

Drive is a film detailing a getaway driver, whom remains
nameless, who meets someone he cares about, which leads him down a dangerous
spiral, which could give him everything he wants in life, if he and everyone he
cares for aren’t killed in the process.

The narrative in Drive is told linearly. The only time that
the story isn’t told in purely chronological order, is in the final scene, the
confrontation between The Driver, and Bernie Rose, the leader of the Mob
organisation that The Driver (accidentally) stole a million dollars of dirty
money from. The shots cut from a conversation at a dinner table, to the fight
outside, then back to the conversation, finishing with the fight. Aside from
these scene, the narrative follows the conventions of Todorov’s arc (Richardson,
2013). The initial equilibrium details The
Driver, doing his jobs, as cold and emotionless as possible. The opening scene
is a car chase, but from the point of view of the inside of the car, the
sequence is almost half composed of shots looking at The Drivers face. It is
constantly shadowed in darkness, with a completely blank expression on his
face, no frown, nor smile. The equilibrium is then shifted when The Driver
meets Irene, a young woman with a son, Benecio. The Driver begins to form a
relationship with Irene, and becomes a form of father figure to Benecio. The problem
is then introduced at the end of the first act when Irene’s husband returns
from prison, complicating the situation. The problem is worsened when the
Husband, Standard Gabrielle, is severely beaten due to owing people money. To
help him and Irene, The Driver does what he believes is the right thing, and he
helps Standard to rob a pawn shop, which turns out to be a setup, from Bernie
Rose, and Standard is killed, but The Driver escapes with the money, the third
act begins with the problem at a peak. The crisis comes when Rose sends killers
after Irene, and The Driver is forced to murder the hitman in front of Irene,
revealing his true colours to her. The resolution comes when The Driver kills
Rose, and all his partners, and leaves the money behind, making sure that Irene
and Benecio are safe. The new equilibrium is then in place, and the driver is
alone again, however this time as he drives through the night, his face is
filled with emotion, he is happy that he found love with Benecio and Irene, but
saddened that in saving them, he believes he won’t be able to see them again,
especially since he suffered a near fatal wound in his confrontation with Rose.

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 Drive tells the story
in many ways. The narrative is told through dialogue, visuals, and music. These
three aspects of storytelling aren’t more important than one another, they all
serve to portray the narrative in significant ways.

There is very little dialogue in Drive, the protagonist
himself only has one hundred and sixteen short lines (“IMDb trivia”, 2017)
throughout the run time, which is approximately One hundred minutes. These
lines are almost always a few words, for example “you’re going to tell me the
truth, or I’m going to hurt you.” (Amini, 2010). The majority of the films
dialogue comes from the antagonist characters, and Shannon, The Driver’s
mechanic boss and friend. The dialogue is used for small bits of exposition to
keep the audience up with the plot, for example, after the pawn shop heist goes
wrong, a scene details Bernie and Nino speaking about how they set it up.

Equally if not more so, the story is told by the visuals and
cinematography in Drive. The story is about The Driver, and due to him having
very little dialogue, his story is told almost entirely through visual
storytelling.

Drive opens with a scene of The Driver planning out his
route for a getaway and then following this route exactly. In “one unbroken
shot” (Stuckmann, 2012), the camera pans over a map with the route on the
table, over the window, at which point the camera pans up to reveal the back of
The Driver, with his reflection barely visible in the window. The only aspect
of The Driver that is in the light is the scorpion on the back of his jacket.
The scorpion becomes important later in the film, when The Driver tells Bernie
“The Story of the Scorpion and The Frog” (Pittman, 2009) which details a frog carrying a scorpion across a
river, asking the scorpion not to sting him, to which the scorpion says it won’t.
Half way across the river, the scorpion stings the frog, and they both die. The
Driver is the frog. He carries around dangerous people, and it will always be
the scorpions’ nature to kill the frog. Just as the criminals that The Driver
carts around eventually become his downfall. The Driver has a scorpion on his
back, because of this story. He is the frog, carrying the scorpion on its back.
Every time The Driver is doing a job, or slipping back into his violent ways,
the scorpion is always present. And every time he is with Benecio and Irene,
the scorpion is out of shot.  

Another way in which the narrative of Drive is told is
through the music, the original score for the film simply adds atmosphere and
emotion to certain scenes, however it is the song choices from the soundtrack
that help to tell the story of Drive. In the opening two scenes, two songs are
used. These are “Tick of the Clock” by The Chromatics and “Nightcall” by
Kavinsky. (Jagernauth, 2011)
Tick of the Clock is used in the opening scene. The song is approximately three
minutes long and consists of a repeating drum beat. The scene accompanying this
is the prior mentioned car chase. It not only adds a layer of tension, due to
the constant droning bassline, it also reflects The Driver’s character in this
scene. The music is very repetitious, and rarely flares off beat or off
pattern. This is a reflection of his current emotions; he doesn’t really have
any. He doesn’t react, show any panic, fear, or excitement. He just gets on
with his job. The Driver doesn’t have any care for the job or for his clients
here. This repetition is then continued with the close-up shots of The Drivers
emotionless face.

Almost immediately after this, the next scene opens with Kavinsky’s
“Nightcall” backing the opening credits. The song opens with the lyrics “I’m
giving you a night call to tell you how I feel.” (“Nightcall – Kavinsky”, 2010). The Driver’s face
seems to be showing slight emotion, as he seems to be longing for something.
This could be because he is no longer on a job, and his mind may be left to
wander. However, this hint of emotion on his face is just that, a hint. The
choice of Nightcall in this scene could elude to how The Driver longs to feel,
to address his emotions, but they are blocked away by this wall he has created
for himself, through working in such a gruesome and lonely job. He has never
allowed himself to become attached, but now he wishes he could be. This is
further emphasised by the fact that the prior stated line is distorted. During
the chorus, another important line details a woman singing; “there’s something
about you boy, but you’re still the same.” This line furthers the previous
point, in that The Driver has something inside him, a kindness, a need to do
the right thing or be a good person. But on the outside, he is still the same.
These lyrics accompanied by the shots of The Driver alone, foreshadows him
meeting Irene and Benecio, and Sacrificing everything for them.

The third important song use is “A real hero” by College. In terms of telling the story, this song represents
The Driver getting what he wants in life. The song plays twice in the film. The
first time is when he takes Benecio and Irene for a drive through the LA storm
drain. This is the happiest that The Driver is during the film, and the upbeat
song reflects this, as well as the soft lighting and close up shots of the
three faces smiling and laughing. A line in the first verse says, “though
emotionally complex” (“College – A Real Hero”, 2011) and this describes The
Driver at this point in the film. For the first time, he is getting what he
wants, he is feeling these complex emotions; happiness, love, excitement, lust,
all whilst being lost in this moment of human connection with Irene and
Benecio. The second time this song is played is at the very end of the film.
After being stabbed by Bernie, The Driver gets back into his car. The camera
lingers on a close up shot of The Driver’s face for an elongated amount of
time, and it seems as though he is dead. The song then begins to fade in as The
Driver blinks and starts the car. This is where the whole song completes The
Driver’s narrative arc, as he drives off into the night. (Just like the
opening). “Against the grain of dystopic claims, of stop thoughts, your actions
entertain and you, have proved to be a real human being, and a real hero” is
the remainder of the first verse, and this represents The Driver doing all he
can to stop the thugs and gangsters hurting the people he loves. In doing so,
he becomes what he wants to be. A real human being. Falling in love with Irene
gave him the human connection he longed for. He was no longer alone, and
perhaps The Driver hoped his new family could take him out of the dark and into
a good life. However, this is all compromised when Standard returns and himself
and The Driver become entangled in a criminal plot, of which they were never
meant to escape alive. Irene and Benecio are threatened, and The Driver begins
slipping back into his old ways, acting very violent and killing all those who
threated his new family. The Driver realises that Irene has made him feel like
a real human being for the first time, but in order to keep her safe, he has to
let her go, and sacrifice everything he has worked for. The whole song is about
people being saved. “155 people or more, all safe and all rescued, from a
slowly sinking ship.” (“College – A Real Hero”, 2011). This is what this
represents for the narrative in Drive. He feels as though he was saved by
Irene, as she and her son steered him off the dark path, and in return, he must
physically save them from harm, sacrificing himself as he does so. The first
time “A Real Hero” plays, it is the moment when The Driver becomes a real human
being, thanks to Irene. However, the second time it plays, in the climax of the
film, it is The Driver’s choice on what he wants to be, and he chooses to be a
real human being, and a real hero.