Released June 28
Baby Driver is one of those rare movies that uses every element of cinema. If that sounds redundant consider this- this film is built around the emotions inspired by rhythm, sound, the poetry of song and music, and the artistry painted across the screen by a constantly moving and intimate camera.
Writer-director Edgar Wright conceived the concept for Baby Driver in 1994. He adapted the idea for the film’s beginning into a 2003 music video he directed which featured a music-loving getaway driver for a group of bank robbers. Wright really knows his music and lyrics and has built characters and personalities around the music – and all of these characters are proudly flawed. Then there are the incredible car chases. Car chases historically have made some of the best cinema. However there are so many famous ones, it’s hard to come up with creative variables. Here Wright has absolutely succeeded in doing so.
Cinematographer Bill Pope and composer Steven Price worked wonders together for Baby Driver. Note the beautiful rhythm of the long takes with no cuts, as “Baby” walks through the streets with his headphones on. Visuals, sound and music mesh precisely and move to an infectious rhythm.
The real muse/ catalyst for the filmmakers was their chosen lead, Ansel Elgort. Elgort portrays a complex character with such skill that he is readily identifiable. He says very little, communicates predominantly with body language and his eyes. He had to possess the whole package to make the highly unique role of Baby work: acting, music and dance. Baby Driver is not musical theatre, yet it has the essence of a musical. Elgort embodies these elements. He is a fine actor, having done leads in the Divergent series of films and in The Fault in Our Stars. He is a DJ, writes and records music, and has wide ranging musical taste. As a kid he tried out for the School of American Ballet. You can see his skills as a dancer reflected in his movements.
John Hamm successfully sheds his “Don Draper” image to become ex-corporate bank robber “Buddy,” Eiza Gonzalez is great as Buddy’s girlfriend “Darling,” British actress Lily James is as sweet as down-home American apple pie as Baby’s romantic interest, Jamie Foxx adds a touch of tongue in cheek humor as “Bats,” Kevin Spacey as always is able to play an arch-villain who hasn’t entirely lost touch with his heart, and CJ Jones is wonderful as Baby’s deaf foster father who has taught Baby the enhanced skills that those without one of their normal senses develop, including that of lip-reading.
Not lost in this movie is the symbolism of the greed of Wall Street, nor is the symbolism of loss of the ability to hear. Just as the blind man often sees more, in Baby Driver, the deaf man “hears” more deeply than do the hearing. The film is funny yet the tragedy behind the humor is always hovering barely beneath the surface. It is warm hearted yet the evil tendencies, competitiveness and greed of humans constantly bubbles to the surface. The theme is hopeful yet dues are paid for mistakes in the end. This is a movie of a generation, a movie to see over and over again.