For the record, I don't only like films with happy endings. I wouldn't be a horror film fan if that were the case! When I have my horror glasses on, I don't expect everyone to live, or anyone in some cases, and I enjoy myself thoroughly. Rather, I struggle with films that are trying to reach into a deeper part of my consciousness and and deeper part of my emotions but then don't to leave any room or hope for redemption. It's one thing to leave an ending open for audience participation, but in Drive, there's not a whole lot for the viewer to work with.
[Spoilers to follow] One thing that bothers me is that he left the money behind. I was counting on him at least managing to get it to the girl, or some of it, so that at least she could have some kind of future to look forward to. Maybe he did, we don't know. But the money shot (so to speak) next to the dead body really gave off a "he left it all there" vibe. It's like he ends up being nothing like the person we're fooled into thinking he is for nearly the whole movie. The "maybe I could come with you" bit was bullsh!#, and he knew it. This guy's not just a killer, but an ass when it comes down to it. He gets a woman's husband killed, further traumatizes her by bashing in a guy's skull in front of her, then goes on a revenge killing spree--and leaves her with nothing. Sure, she's safe, but she's got no money and a kid to support. And now two dead people to mourn. Great job making everything better, Driver.[end spoiler]
Maybe it just goes to show how that tough guy male archetype is a fallacy in terms of its ultimate efficacy. I suppose if I see it that way, the hope lies in the way the audience interprets it rather than in the film itself. Hey, guys, you wanna be tough and aloof and kill people, here's where it leads. Nobody wins.
Again, I'm not saying it makes it a bad film. Just a good film with a stupid ending.
Wendy and Lucy, for a contrasting example, ends rather sadly. But there's hope--hope that Wendy will get her act together and come back for Lucy. Hope that the people she left Lucy with will take care of her. Reichardt leaves room for a number of possible endings. But Drive ends in such a way that reduces the number of realistic outcomes for the characters. There's very little hope. I feed off of hope in films. But I don't necessarily need happy endings.
Hell, even Black Swan ends on a better note than Drive. She's going to die, sure, but she dies having accomplished what she wanted to accomplish, even if it's only in her deluded mind.There's resolution, if not hope. And I suppose I'll take resolution if I can't have hope. I loved the ending of Black Swan. It certainly wasn't happy.
Pass along The Story of Film to me, too, Ben! You could mail a flash drive, right?Contact me on Facebook for my address if you're willing to do this.
You mentioned Doug and Gail's relationship in Cold Weather, Ben, and I forgot to. It was one of the most lovely aspects of the film. I envied their closeness and familiarity with each other. The chemistry was good between the actors, too.
I also read and really liked the essay about Black Swan you linked to. A lot of thought-provoking stuff in there. I'd wager that there are things in the film that a more feminine perspective might appreciate (notice I did not say "male" or "female") than a masculine one. As I mentioned, the melodrama was a turnoff to some but I found it completely appropriate. And, Brandon, my film knowledge is not as extensive as yours, so I didn't find Black Swan to be derivative at all. In fact, I thought it very creatively combined "stock shocks" like you'd find in a horror film with what would have been a boring drama otherwise. This made the film seem fresh to me, and not so gimmicky. As I said, I think Aronofsky has brought the essence of Pi to a big budget Hollywood film and Hollywood is better for it.
A question for everyone: what's a good source for a list of films released in the US in 2011? I know I've asked this before, but it was a year ago and I can't find John's post. I want to do a 2011 recap, since film club seems to like that sort of thing, but I only keep track of my films on Flixster (it's easy, John, and better than nothing!) and there's no way to sort by year :).