Every ride-share driver has their share of peculiar fares, but Russell’s (AJ Bowen) in Night Drive may just take the cake. What begins as just another lonely Christmas night driving for Jaunt (an Uber like app), slowly descends into intrigue and suspense when his latest passenger, Charlotte (Sophie Dalah), takes him off the pitiful path his life was headed in.
The first two acts of this low-fi thriller are full of dark developments that continually push Russell past his breaking point. What makes Night Drive special though is the chemistry between the beautifully unsettling Charlotte and the everyman Russell. Their witty desensitized banter makes even the most uncomfortable moments in the film fun and easy to digest for an audience. In many ways, the first 2/3rds of Night Drive is akin to the grimy midnight manic flicks of the late 80s and early 90s, like Miracle Mile and After Hours.
Unfortunately, the third act of Night Drive sends Leon and Baruh’s feature off the deep end. The twist in the last thirty minutes is surprising, but the film then is forced to explain the mechanics of its twist to avoid any confusion for audiences. This exposition throws the core of Charlotte and Russell’s relationship, which drives the entire film, into the backseat. While there is much to love in Night Drive, it’s a ride that isn’t worth 5 stars and a tip.
The Silver Lining
While Night Drive may be narratively disjointed, the unevenness of the film’s poster is fantastic. The use of negative space with the white car on top of it shows how desperate Russell is to escape his situation. Yet, he keeps falling into the purple and yellow neon hellscape that is L.A. Night Drive‘s poster is perfectly composed and true to the film’s premise while still maintaining a unique and alluring aura. It’s certainly one of the best official posters of any film this year.
Night Drive is available now on your favorite video on demand platform (Amazon Video, VUDU, etc.).