Based on James Sallis’s 2005 novel, Drive is a 2011 film adaptation directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Refn is known for helming cinematic crime dramas with a vibrant visual aesthetic, and for his collaborations with Ryan Gosling, who stars in Drive as an unnamed stunt driver (he follows this role with a similar one in the 2012 film, The Place Beyond the Pines).
When Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son (Kaden Leos) move into an apartment next to the driver’s, he feels drawn to the pair and grows close to them. Their new bond is disrupted when Irene’s husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) is released from prison. Wanting to protect the family and help Standard pay his debts, the driver offers to be his getaway driver in a robbery. Over the course of the film, Gosling’s character is pushed closer to his limits until he’s on the wrong side of the law; despite his solitary nature, he’s learning how to show love and care for someone, which results in a neo-noir blend of tenderness and violence (which is reflected in the film’s use of lighting).
Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel often lingers on Gosling as he drives down deserted city streets at night, or shows the driver cutting glances in the rearview mirror. Color contrasts are a big part of Drive‘s aesthetic, as seen in the following stills: