Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Drive All Night Review: A Stylish Noir Film

Yutaka Takeuchi	...	Dave Lexy Hammonds	Lexy Hammonds	...	Cara Sarah Dumont	Sarah Dumont	...	Morgan Johnny Gilligan	Johnny Gilligan	...	Lenny Will Springhorn	Will Springhorn	...	Frank Natalia Berger	Natalia Berger	...	Midnight Judy Ali Jahangiri	Ali Jahangiri	...	Fred Vonn Scott Bair	Vonn Scott Bair	...	Boss James J. Der Jr.	James J. Der Jr.	...	Marv / Stage Actor Mia Jómor	Mia Jómor	...	Waitress Rest of cast listed alphabetically: J.J. Ryder	J.J. Ryder	...	Bartender Stephanie Whigham	Stephanie Whigham	...	Model 1

Release date: March 20, 2021
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Peter Hsieh
Starring:  Yutaka Takeuchi, Lexy Hammonds, Sarah Dumont, Johnny Gilligan

‘Drive All Night’ follows Dave (Yutaka Takeuchi), a reclusive swing-shift taxi driver, whose night takes an unexpected turn after he picks up a mysterious passenger, Cara (Lexy Hammonds), a young woman hiding a dark secret. As she makes him drive through the city on a series of bizarre excursions, things get increasingly more surreal the further into the night they go. Sarah Dumont (‘Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse,’ ‘The Royals’) plays Morgan, a sympathetic waitress who works at a diner that Dave often frequents, while Johnny Gilligan plays Lenny, an obsessive hitman guided by strange visions, who pursues our protagonists through the night.

Directed by  Peter Hsieh	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Peter Hsieh	Produced by  Ali Jahangiri	...	producer Sam Chou	...	executive producer Windy Chou	...	producer Robert Daniel Thomas	...	producer Grace Hsieh	...	producer Henry Hsieh	...	producer Stella Hsieh	...	producer Christopher Au	...	executive producer Stephanie Whigham	...	producer Peter Hsieh	...	producer Marius Layus	...	line producer Lexy Hammonds	...	producer Jonathan Quesenberry	...	producer
Drive All Night's wonderful style will get you hooked on the film early on.  It has a great use of 80s colors and sounds to put you in the right frame of mind.  Despite this film being set in modern times, the movie has a decidedly classic look and feel, with film grain and other imperfections intoduced to the final product.  And the movie also has prominent use of neon lights and colors throughout the night to help evoke a different time.  In fact, the color choices are bold and striking; colored lights are used to highlight dream sequences and surreal experiences that occur throughout this strange night.  

And my favorite part of this movie is that the filmmakers clearly loved classic video games.  There are a lot of random video game references and facts that Cara tells Dave, and each time it made me smile.  Additionally, the film uses chiptunes sound effects as sound effects and within the soundtrack.  And overall, the sounds contribute to the strong style of thils film, with the aforementioned classic sounds along with some surreal, otherworldly tracks and rock and roll.  Really, Drive All Night has its stylistic palette perfectly contracted, and lets you settle in for a strange and surreal night. And the style includes the characters, who have very deliberate choices in their wardrobe and mannerisms.  Cara especially has a fun style with her leather Nasa jacket.  The whole film evokes a Noir sense that will hook you early on.  

However, the story of Drive All Night left me wanting more.  It has a slow, quirky start which I loved, but as the night progresses it doesn't reveal much to the viewer.  The film has an out of order storytelling that reveals pieces of the movie throughout, and this can be confusing to follow.  Although the style definitely changes in some scenes, it was tough to tell where reality, dream sequences, and flashbacks ended.  Despite the film revealing additional information later in the movie, I never really felt like I got a good sense of what was going on.  This is not helped by an ending that left something to be desired, with a conclusion that does not quite wrap up what was an engaging start.  And mechanically, the film has some odd cuts that make it feel like there was not enough time or budget to redo shots, so they were tweaked in production.  This is not too distracting, but can be noticeable and contributes to the overall disjointed feel of the film.  It is a shame because I really loved what Drive All Night was doing; the style, sounds, and video game references had me hooked from the start.  But the story just didn't quite come together.  

Drive All Night has an 80s, video game, and noir inspiration, with bold colors, classic effects, and surreal sounds to keep you wondering during this wild night.

Rent it.

Music by  Robert Daniel Thomas	Cinematography by  William Hellmuth	Film Editing by  Guillermo Areizaga	 Peter Hsieh	Makeup Department  Carina Garcia	...	hair & make upProduction Management  Stephanie Whigham	...	production managerSound Department  Wayne Cheng	...	sound recordistCamera and Electrical Department  Guillermo Areizaga	...	grip Katherine Carpenter	...	assistant camera Dominic Cirigliano	...	2nd unit grip Christine Kelly	...	second assistant camera Mark Lopez	...	gaffer David Orr	...	additional photography Hunter Rodgers	...	key grip Emily Wohlford	...	2nd Unit Gaffer
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