Baby Driver: In Thought and Action
I’ll watch anything directed and written by Edgar Wright. Wright has steadily produced hit comedies which feature artistic choices in favor of austere, low brow directing. Any summer blockbuster comedies can display this unornamented directing: nothing special, no significance behind the framing, no underlying meaning, just point the camera in the direction of the funny stuff. Edgar Wright is able to skillfully transcend conventional comedy, primarily through this utilization of visual comedy. (The YouTube channel Every Frame a Painting has a great review of his visual comedy). With Wright’s newer project of Baby Driver, he was required to turn from his usual comedic genre and produce a fast paced action film.
Throughout his career, Edgar Wright has strongly relied on his directorial skills and, although they are present throughout his newest film, Wright’s writing is what truly deserves the attention, most notably, his character descriptions. In every film, the audience usually grasps a firm understanding of who their characters are and what they value. Scenes can be devoted to these moments, flashbacks can be drawn, characters can just blatantly state them, but this would only disrupt the flow, and, as seen in Baby Driver, flow and coordination are everything. Wright only dedicates one flashback towards scenes that feature both the main protagonist and his mother; however, that is nowhere near the end of their relationship. One of the clearest examples of these paternal underlyings is Baby’s time in the diner. Any audience member could clearly realize that Baby’s frequent visits to the diner that his mother use to work at demonstrates his affection for her; and any Hollywood director looking for a profit would be generally satisfied with this generic character description. However, Wright goes further into their relationship, nearly dedicating the film and the protagonist’s name to it. When we first meet Baby’s romantic interest, she is confused as to why he is glancing at the kids’ menu while waiting to order. Baby plays it off as general confusion but it is evident to the reader that this diner and this menu is his greatest link to his mother. By using the kids’ menu, Baby is still going through the routine that was common to him while his mother was still with him. This simple desire of his mother ends up dictating his social life as it is clear his partner is a stand-in for his mother; mainly illustrated in her physical appearance and her profession in the same diner. Even Baby’s monicker, Baby, conjure images of youth and innocence. The main premise of Baby Driver is Baby attempting to free himself of the burdens of his past in an attempt to lead a stable life. Although his previous crime is mainly depicted as a tremendous burden from his past, his inability to let go of his mother’s death truly plagues him: a demon he cannot drive away from.
After Wright establishes his protagonist’s backstory and values, he switches gears, beginning to outline the key traits and identity of Baby. Similarly to the opening scenes of Drive (If you’re looking for a darker, more mature version of Baby Driver, Drive is your movie). We first meet our character waiting in his car during a robbery. Baby isn’t given any emotional reactions or dialogue, creating an aura of mystique around our character. Drive feeds off this detachment, even going so far as to never name their protagonist. Taking an alternate route, Baby Driver quickly shows the true nature of our character through his conversation with his foster father. The conversation consists mainly of sign language; sign language that isn’t paired with subtitles. Even though we don’t have any understanding of what they’re saying, the message is clear. The bond between Baby and his foster father aren’t limited by sign language and Baby is willing to take up sign language to be able to bond with his father, possibly making amends with his previous father who he never had been close to. Baby’s nature is described in the trial scene as a series of people who Baby interacted with testify his purity. They all seem to echo the same message; Baby was a good kid who committed harmful decisions in his past but was determined to set his life on the right path.