refn: the calm before the storm    He still hasn’t entered the Olympia of film directors. But Hollywood has cast its nets
and it won’t let him get away. In the coming years we’ll be seeing Nicolas Winding Refn, unknown to the general public so far, on the red carpet along with the usual household stars and names. That’s why we’ve chosen to write about this filmmaker born in Denmark and raised and educated in New York. So far, he has made interesting films that clearly bear his own brand.

He won the award for Best Director for his latest film Drive (2011) at the last Cannes Festival. We can only suppose that this has meant a huge change in his life. He will receive multiple offers and all the film festivals will be beating a track to his door. We first got to know Refn many years ago when he presented his film Pusher at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 1996. That dark and entertaining film about the comings and
goings of an average drug-dealer in Copenhagen was a huge success at the festival.

Later on it would become the trilogy Pusher in 2004-2005. Likewise, in Refn’s work we get an intimate look at racism and violence as in Bleeder
(1999) and in the half-baked parapsychological thriller Fear X (2003) starring John Turturro. In 2008, he filmed one of his gems: Bronson. He masterfully combines comedy and horror in this genre masterpiece. His inspiration was also flowing for his next film Valhalla Rising (2009) and here he showed he was well able to tell another type of story. Set in Scotland in the year 1000 AD, he made a hypnotic film about a time
and subject matter rarely seen in cinema. Violence is also very present in this swiftly
developed film of a journey.

Violence is not a spectacle in Refn’s stories. He doesn’t use slow motion, scene replication or close ups. Just as in real life, the violence is very brief, flashes that appear rapidly and disappear just as quickly. But those flashes of violence absolutely condition everything else. The calm moments before the storm, the moments that are more unsettling than the storm itself. And Refn films these moments brilliantly.

Nicolas Winding Refn is a very talented guy. In his film Drive his American mannerisms
showcase his adaptable skills. We wish him all the best with his recently filmed Only God Forgives in Thailand and the sexual thriller I Walk with the Dead he has been working on for years. We also hope the Hollywood climate doesn’t calm the storms of his future films.