Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Drive

Drive by James Sallis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliant clutter of scenes of a man's life that form the empty whole of a noir icon, the criminal savant getaway driver. A stunt man, a child survivor, a Parker-esque ghost of vengeance who wants only to be left alone...
Sallis cuts this novel to the bone, it is a mere 117 pages but it satisfies and paints a huge canvas by leaving so much white space between the art that our mind fills in the blanks. You can read this in one sitting; I chose to savor it. As an e-book it is a little harder to follow because the page breaks aren't well formatted, so I'd suggest print.
It's a truly masterful characterization and a terrific story. It was inevitable that it would become a movie. The movie itself captures much of what is told here but tells its own tale. I'd highly recommend enjoying both. The film is a Michael Mann-inspired blast that shocks us with its silence and long still interludes, much as Sallis's novel takes "less is more" to a perfectly executed extreme. The soundtrack is a lost '80s album. The garish pink title script tells it all.
The performances are all pitch perfect. If you say you like noir you owe yourself to read the book and see the film.

Modern movies often leave me cold; so does nihilistic noir. But both book and film thrilled me like I'd discovered the genre for the first time.

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Ben said...

That would explain why the movie feels so airtight and meticulous. The novel is the length of a screenplay. I'm intrigued.

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