"No young man believes he shall ever die," wrote English essayist William Hazlitt way back in the early 19th century, and watching Drive by Big hART Directors Bronwyn Purvis and Telen Rodwell, it seems nothing has changed.
This is gritty reality film-making that grabs you by the heart and doesn't stop squeezing, even when the lights go up. Through close-up camera work, we are invited into the uncomfortable intimacy of grief shared by the mates, girlfriends, mothers and brothers of the young men who have died on Tasmania's north-west coast roads as they tell their stories. Too many stories.
Every detail is imprinted and related - from their lives before the crash to the moments leading up to the crash, the crash itself and its aftermath - and the anguish is palpable. We see a dark blue P-plated station wagon crumpled from its fatal crash and it looks like a hearse. "That's the car I killed my best mate in and the dog," says a 24 year old man. "How do I carry it?" he asks. "I carry it like a champion, that's how."
Drive shows us young men killing themselves, each other and other people on the roads, and it is relentless and compelling in its storytelling. It's easy to blame the speed, the drugs, the alcohol, the reckless risk-taking behaviour of these blokes - until we understand what sits beneath that: these are young men who are desperate to get as far away as fast as possible from where they are. They see their cars as their way to gain control of their lives and become men.
We talk about young men's sense of invincibility. What we need to talk about is their vulnerability: this film is filled with absent fathers. "What do people in heaven cry about?" a young woman asks her toddler son at the end of the film. He replies, "They cry about their sons."