‘Drive’s’ colorful ads suggest an unusual movie


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The flamboyant, pink script that accompanies the billboards for “Drive” make Friday’s new Ryan Gosling movie look anything like an ordinary crime thriller—which unlike most Hollywood sales jobs actually qualifies as truth in advertising.

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s (“Bronson”) film is an unusual mash-up of art-house style and commercial genre moviemaking. It’s a film that is attracting overwhelmingly positive reviews but is not lacking in high-speed car chases or sadistic violence.


Written by Hossein Amini (“The Wings of the Dove”), “Drive” stars Gosling as a show business stunt man by day and getaway driver by night. When he falls for his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), he gets drawn into a rapidly worsening spiral of vicious incidents.

The film’s billboard campaign can be seen around Los Angeles and New York, ahead of the film’s opening in nearly 2,800 theaters. There are seven billboards in distributor FilmDistrict’s promotional campaign, most of them tagged with the marketing copy, “There are no clean getaways.”

‘We’ve tried to show that it’s an elevated genre film--that it’s not ‘Fast and the Furious’ but has a real look and a real style,’ Bob Berney, FilmDistrict’s distribution head, says of the billboards. ‘That’s the hook of the film--it really is different. This is not a typical genre film.’

Gosling’s own billboard says “Some heroes are real,” a testament to his character’s willingness to fight—and we mean fight—for what he’s trying to protect.

The film’s violence is both ‘Drive’s’ strongest selling point--fans of Quentin Tarantino’s films are likely to love Refn’s blood lust--and its greatest hurdle. Upscale moviegoers, who are often propelled into theaters by positive film reviews, might blanch at the gore, or avoid going to see the movie altogether. ‘It’s a really challenging film in that way,’ Berney says.


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--John Horn