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Driver indie film review

Directed by: #MichaelLazar

Written by: Michael Lazar

Starring: Michael Lazar, #KewanShariff, #RichHenver, #AllisonHill,

 

Screenshot from the film showing Ray pointing a revolver while driving a car.

It’s really hard to make a movie.


I know first hand the struggles, the sacrifices and pure herculean strength it takes to craft something. It doesn’t come easy and if any of you reading this has made that plunge into creativity whether it be writing, painting, music, filmmaking or any grand venture take never-ending pride in your efforts. That effort however does not always translate to success despite the best of intentions; that’s part of what makes Michael Lazar’s crime drama of a for-hire getaway driver Ray such a drag. Wearing multiple hats as writer/director and star it's clear that Driver is a passion project for Lazar, though despite poor dialogue and stilted acting there’s a faint sense of camaraderie among the cast, I believe they had fun making this film.


Driver operates more like a fantasy of a group of guys wanting to be in a crime film than an actual film. It is a laborious experience of amateur filmmaking with little artistry on display as flat camerawork, dull direction and horrendous editing completely alienate every attempt for an audience to take the material seriously. Driver is your standard story about a getaway driver looking to "get away" from his criminal life, he follows a code and has to use his wits to survive when he and his partner start making enemies. Relying on clichés and tropes isn’t taboo but Lazar’s script doesn’t unify any of these ideas to a realistic narrative. When the third act reveals the obvious connections between Ray’s criminal and personal life, Lazar’s performance literally can’t bring itself to care with any emotion. It just becomes frustrating but Driver never treads into ‘so bad its funny’ territory, so all we’re left with is this continuous feeble presentation.


The editing is where the film fails in its storytelling, Lazar’s script and direction barely breathes life into the characters and motivations, but the actual assembly of the film kills it. It’s not just boring repetitive sequences of Ray driving the car around nighttime Las Vegas (complete with an overabundance of cutaways to drone footage of nighttime Las Vegas) but continuity errors that just make you want to scream in its incompetence. One scene in particular where two characters are speaking, one standing behind a strange mural featuring video game characters, then suddenly halfway through the conversation both characters are in a different room. Same positions, same conversation, not a beat missed but, it's visual whiplash for the audience. Scenes featuring violence or gunfights are non-sensical as they carry no genuine tension or weight, feeding into the whole "guys making a movie on the weekend" fantasy, it is just ridiculous.


Driver never escapes the impression of amateur hour and as the runtime goes on it just becomes embarrassing to watch. Its error after error with no cinematic vision or expertise, nothing about the film feels real, thus making Ray’s story completely inconsequential to the audience. It is hard to make a movie and despite my criticisms, I can clearly see the efforts Lazar and his team took to make Driver. The finished film, however, just leaves nothing to enjoy or appreciate beyond that initial effort to create something.

 

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