The Driver 5.0 stars

Driver movie poster

Cops-and-robbers stuff, stripped to the barest essentials of the genre, reduced to the irreducible, abstracted to no more than the bluesy mood and the methodical, calculated, chess-game maneuvers. The nearly monochromatic color and uncluttered compositions conjure up a poetic night world somewhat in the manner of "Whistler's nocturnes." Writer-director Walter Hill informs this genre piece with the sensibility of a French aesthete (a Jean-Pierre Melville or a Jacques Deray), and with a solid Old Hollywood workmanship which gives it a full body — smooth, seamless, and taut like a snake. A lean, somber, standoffish beauty, it is undoubtedly not to everyone's taste, and is probably advisable for film noir aficionados only. The whole show, in fact, is something like a coded message passed from the moviemaker to the devotees of the genre, in full view of, but beyond the full understanding of, the rest of the audience. With Ryan O'Neal, Bruce Dern, Isabelle Adjani, and Ronee Blakley; photographed by Philip Lathrop. 1978.

Duncan Shepherd

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