Drive is 2011

We live in a time that self-consciously chooses it's references and influences while keeping out of the genre of parody. Some might call it pastiche, I call it clever. In television, you get Community which subtly and often blaringly uses pop culture references to create an original story. In music, you get synth-heavy bands that recall glossy 80s synth or decades-old dance beats, but feel original for using old technology in new ways. In film, you get Drive (2011) that uses some 80s touches, but doesn't wink at its references. It uses them with a straight face, adding some glitz to a minimalist and dark film that recalls a 60s or 70s thriller more than anything else. The Wikipedia article goes into even more detail of its referential-ness.

The mash-up of eras in and of itself isn't entirely modern, but here are some things Drive manages to do that seem relevant to current pop culture's meta-obsession:

Dress characters in hipster-lite fashion. Maybe it's because I live in Seattle that I think this is relevant because people tend to just wear random crap together that don't make sense because they're pulling from so many different eras. But I mean, you can even shop at Forever 21 and do the same thing. Anyway, it's prevalent. Observe:

Satin jacket, 1980s-does-1950s/60s style? Check.

Floral anything in a flowy/rayon-like fabric from the 90s? Done. (Although looks kind of 40s in influence with the sweetheart neckline. SO MANY ERAS OF FASHION).

Tossing in random 80s shit just because you can. Dare I draw a comparison to the sax solo in "Last Friday Night (TGIF)" and the font choice for Drive's credits?

Hot pink 80s cursive? Check!

Also 80s, the synth-heavy soundtrack. I think the 80s are a particularly rough decade to hearken back to with any degree of restraint given its reputation of being the greediest, tackiest, cocaine-fueled, big hair, glossy-on-the-outside decade ever*, but Drive uses the decade as shorthand for a detached sense of humanity** (is there anything more inhuman than synthesizers?). The music used in the film sound like what many indie bands have been doing for years and many popular artists are currently using: taking back the synth line.

Anyway, my point is this: Drive manages to be the most pop culturally relevant film I've seen since who knows when. People will actually be able to look back at this film and say, "This is so 2010s" without talking about the special effects, use of 3-D, drained color palette, manic pixie dream girl, superhero origin story, or hallow romantic-comedy plot. Well done, Drive.

*Have I mentioned I'm from Generation Y or whatever 80s-born kids are supposed to be?
**That and violence. Lots of it.


  1. I really want to see this but I'm afraid all the violence is going to make me puke. I've heard it's pretty rough...what do you say for a person with a weak stomach? Worth it?

  2. It gets pretty gruesome, and I was cringing through some parts. It might be a little much for someone with a weak stomach. I would say it's on par with a Scorsese movie like Goodfellas or Taxi Driver, if that helps.

    I still really liked it though!