DRIVE ALL NIGHT (2021) Reviews of neo-noir drama

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Drive All Night is a 2021 American neo-noir drama film about a taxi driver taken on bizarre excursions by a mysterious passenger.

Written and directed by Peter Hsieh – making his feature debut – the movie stars Lexy Hammonds, Yutaka Takeuchi (Tales from the Dead), Johnny Gilligan and Sarah Dumont (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse).

Plot:
Dave (Yutaka Takeuchi) is 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 odd the further into the night they go.

Sarah Dumont 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…

Our view:
Writer-director Peter Hsieh seems to have been inspired by David Lynch and Nicolas Winding Refn and Drive All Night is as stylish and soulless as their films. Suffice to say it looks lovely – although some reviewers’ references to surrealism reveal their lack of knowledge of that art movement (it doesn’t just mean strange: check out any Luis Buñuel film for the real deal or genuine oddities such as Godmonster of Indian Flats) – and benefits slightly from a briefly heard propulsive synth score by Robert Daniel Thomas.

Ultimately, Drive All Night is simply a dull series of cold non-eventful relationship scenes with some low-level crime elements as a backdrop. And there’s no excusing the use of back-projection for the taxi scenes in a modern movie because they take the viewer out of anything happening onscreen. Don’t waste your time on this film and take a taxi ride to somewhere more interesting instead.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Reviews:
” …a surreal cross between Mann’s Thief (one of my all-time favorites) and The Driver (another all-timer) — with one of the eyes of Mann, and another eye from Hill, plugged into Winding Refn’s brain. The neo-noir spiral here, while certainly inspired by it, isn’t the cut-and-dry mystery, twisty black and white of the Double Indemnity variety (another all-timer): Drive All Night is much more surreal in its layered, dream-like non-reality.” B&S About Movies

“Director Hsieh’s film simply moves too slowly for too simple a premise. Even the splashes of random (and enjoyable) arcade-game knowledge, intriguing monologues and beautiful aerial footage aren’t enough for the viewer to know, or care, about the events of the narrative.” Film Festival Today

“Peter Hsieh’s debut feature arrives gorgeously soaked in the neon-hellhole California ambience of Nicolas Winding Refn’s work (notably Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon) with accompanying mood for days — er, nights). Absorbing a director’s color palette is a relatively easy task, which Hsieh pulls off, no doubt with the help of feature-debuting DP William Hellmuth.” Flick Attack

” …it works, it works. The characters, their behaviour; the surreal visions and people’s bizarre actions; the cinematography, the soundtrack… and ultimately the explanation as to what’s actually happening in this film (which is really, and brilliantly, open to interpretation… there’s a very good reason for using the term “fever dream” to describe the movie, believe me).” Nerdly

“The Michael Mann and Lynch inspiration is easy to see, and a pleasure to just sit through for the film’s 94 minutes- I can’t imagine not sitting through the credits so one can listen to the music. The film captures the allure of modern noir in those elements so beautifully, and they help make Drive All Night a fascinating exercise in genre, even if some things work more than others.” Sonic Cinema

“Fusing the premise of Michael Mann’s thriller Collateral (2004) with the cryptic imagery of David Lynch, the film prompts a pervading sense of déjà vu which occasionally works in favor of its studied ambience but generally gives the impression that Hsieh isn’t quite sure how to channel his immediately recognizable influences.” VCinema

“Beautifully shot by William Hellmuth, featuring Robert Daniel Thomas’ terrific synthesizer score, and pulsing with colorful set design, Drive All Night works in a dreamlike haze where reality and surreality blend for both Dave and the viewer. The film is often deliberately vague, but this drive takes you on an enigmatic journey to a satisfying conclusion that is different than most films in the subgenre offer.” When It Was Cool

Release:
Drive All Night will make its world premiere in competition at the Cinequest Film Festival, running March 20-30, 2021. “Cinequest is always searching for films that stretch the boundaries of storytelling, and visions from artists who are looking to reinvent genres. Drive All Night is a spectacular example of a story we have never seen before. It took us by surprise, took us on a ride, and it swept us up in one of the most unpredictable journeys,” said Michael Rabehl, Programming Director at Cinequest.

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

Filming locations:
San Jose and San Francisco, California

Technical details:
1 hour 34 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1

Trailer:

Clip:

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