Friday, July 14, 2017
3 Thoughts on Baby Driver
1. The technique - This seems to be a film that is universally loved, although I have seen a few people claiming it doesn't live up to the hype. But I think everyone can agree that technically, it's brilliant. Like, a stunning piece of film-making. Most are talking about the practical effects used for the car chases (which is why it seemed so real, as opposed to the Fast & Furious franchise) and/or the use of musical cues for action sequences and editing scenes. But, I for one, am obsessed with a well done long tracking shot, and this film has several. One even competes with Shame, as it has Baby walking through NYC, and I just smiled for its entirety. This scene alone won me over. The rest of the movie is filled with spectacular car chase scenes, beautifully quiet character-driven moments, and downright genius musical cues. To set the pace of a film along with music - and not in a soundtrack way because the music is an integral part of the story, is probably the most creative thing I've seen done in a film in years. It will be hard to top this as my favorite movie of the year.
2. The cast - Another thing that won me over is the cast. I was a big fan of Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars. He displayed the perfect amount of positivity and vulnerability, and it literally broke my heart. However, I kind of assumed that I liked him just because I connected with that movie so much (I *still* use the "great and terrible 10" as a guide for painful experiences). I didn't actually believe that Ansel was ready for a lead role. I think I described him as "dopey" back then, and my description still stands. Yet, he absolutely killed it in this role. Jon Hamm was unexpectedly really fun, while Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey played more expected roles (still fun to watch). I was on the fence about Lily James (she was boring as Cinderella but great in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), but damn if she wasn't trying to perfect a modern day version of Alabama Whitman, she did it anyway (more on this later). And to round out the cast, Eiza Gonzalez is stunning (from the series of From Dusk Till Dawn, I knew I recognized her!!). All actors displayed the perfect amount of grit and cheesiness. And it was all extremely fun to watch.
3. The influences - I think everyone's initial reaction is to compare it to Drive. But it turns out, it's nothing like it at all. In fact, remember how upset everyone was initially about how misleading the Drive trailer was? Well, this is the movie that I think everyone was expecting Drive to be. It's fast, thrilling, non-organic, and the complete opposite of Drive in every way. The only real connection is that it's about a driver who doesn't talk much. For me, this film had more of a retro True Romance vibe to it. I've seen a few other reviewers describing it that way, as well. Sure, it has many other influences (Heat, Reservoir Dogs, The Driver), but the overlying plot point is the romance - and it is pure Clarence and Alabama love. I've also seen many (female) critics take issue with this love, and this female character (OH HEAVEN FORBID IT DOESN'T PASS THE ARCHAIC BECHDEL TEST), but the movie is not about her. She's not part of the group - her existence in the plot is to give Baby a reason to get out; to survive. Every character is an archetype, so it's not problematic that she is too. Honestly, a multi-dimensional female character would have felt out of place in this film - none of the characters, with the exception of Baby, were given layers.