For Your Consideration Baby Driver

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There is a scene in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver when we get a lot of information in a few minutes of screen time. Baby (B-A-B-Y Baby) is watching a car with a dead body stuffed in the trunk get smashed at a junkyard and at the same time he’s remembering the birthday when he got an iPod from his mother, that his mother was a singer, that she fought with his father and that during one of those fights their car smashed into another car killing them both and leaving Baby with a hearing problem that means he has to listen to music for the rest of his life to drown it out. We learn all of that as he’s watching the car get smashed. He turns and Easy by the Commodores begins playing.   “I know it sounds funny but I just can’t stand the pain.” He kicks a piece of metal in time exactly to the beats of the music. Such is one of the simple pleasures this memorable, exuberant, moving film contains. A film that follows the rhythm, and occasionally the lyrics, of songs that Baby listens to contrasts a plot that weaves in out of high crimes, falling in love and the inner world of a good guy caught in a bad guy’s world.

Later, the song Easy comes back. This time it’s sung by Baby’s mother (Sky Ferreira) played to him while he and his new love Debora (a delightful Lily James) as they try to make it to their dream drive, the road, music and no plan. There is a plan for Baby, however. A roadblock. In another great montage we find out what happens to Baby and Deborah in a series of scenes set to Easy with Baby going to prison and eventually, on good behavior because he’s a good kid, getting out. It’s such an uplifting way to end a movie that each time I’ve seen it, like the best movies, I look forward to those last five minutes. 

I’m not sure what scene of Baby Driver made me fall in love with this film such that I’ve already seen it three times in the span of a few weeks. Was it Ansel Egort’s vulnerability beneath a tough guy facade? Was it the crisp, clean and funny dialogue throughout – “Sometimes all I want is to head West on 20 in a car I can’t afford, with a plan I don’t have, just me, my music, and the road.” Is it just the love story? Or can it come down to the best editing of any film all year? Maybe it can. Baby Driver manages to be so many things at once that maybe some people might find it hard to explain why it matters or why it’s important. Well, a great movie doesn’t need an explanation. All it requires is that people watch it. 

Yes, Kevin Spacey is in this movie. That might mean some will be unwilling to watch it. It might mean it ends up on the scrap heap of 2017, gone to pasture with all of the other great work by undesirables. That would be a shame. Spacey, for whatever you decide his work means because of his past behavior, remains a great character actor regardless and Baby Driver is certainly no exception, but the film deserves consideration beyond that tiny part of the story. Most seem to agree that there is no better editing in any film this year, but there’s more to it than that. The writing, the acting, and most of all the directing by Edgar Wright, a guy who is not been celebrated nearly enough this year for the some kind of wonderful he made this year with Baby Driver, one of the best films this year. The tracking shot as Baby flees the police on foot, every bit as breathtaking as how he maneuvers cars away from bank robberies. This is Steve McQueen and muscle cars. This is warm summer nights and first kisses you never forget. This is bad guys with lame stories. This is deaths only movie characters deserve. This is heist movies and love stories and great American music from every era. I’ll not soon forget every minute of this fine, fine film.  

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