Saturday, May 22, 2021

Drive All Night - 2021 CAAMFest Movie Review

The Movie: Drive All Night

The Director: Peter Hsieh

The Cast: Johnny Gilligan, Lexy Hammonds, Sarah Dumont, Yutaka Takeuchi

The Story: Drive All Night follows Dave, a reclusive swing-shift taxi driver, whose night takes an unexpected turn after he picks up a mysterious passenger, Cara, a young woman hiding a dark secret. 

The Review:
There are a lot of things that this movie reminds me of with influences pulled from all over the place and yet it still manages to stand on its own as a unique piece of storytelling. My first impression, even before watching the movie, is Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive for the most obvious of reasons which are visual style, 80's aesthetic, and of course the title. There is an underlying current that this is a noir crime thriller although there are actually a few elements sprinkled in that make it seem like there could be a much larger story at play which reminds me a bit of Tarantino just without all of the over the top theatrics and stylizations.

At the heart of the movie is the story of Dave, the lonely cab driver anti hero who is lost in a mundane existence with hints of a past that may have led him to creating a much smaller and maybe more hidden reality than he was once used to. Dave is brought to life by Yutaka Takeuchi in a way that makes him very relatable, you can see in his eyes, his demeanor, and the way he communicates that whatever he has done in life has had a big impact on who he is now. On the other side of that is Lexy Hammonds who plays Cara, a young woman who basically rents Dave as a driver for a night full of mystery and more hints of a bigger world.

The interactions between the two characters with Cara constantly supplying questions that Dave deftly answers without ever revealing much and yet the duo still manage to have a strong chemistry and a bond that grows over the course of the film. There's a playfulness to their conversations and you end up with more questions than answers which makes the mysterious aspect of the film even stronger. A backdrop of the story is Cara's love for and mastery of video games which director Peter Hsieh expands out to the visual style and the soundtrack for the film. I really liked that 80's arcade vibe since it calls back to my childhood days of dropping I don't know how many quarters into all the arcade machines I could find.

The Verdict:
Drive All Night is a movie I could watch all day thanks to beautiful visuals, an engaging story, and characters who you want to get to know. Very strong debut feature film from director Peter Hsieh.

To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at CAAMFest 2021.

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