Seven Days of Streaming

Seven Days of Streaming: The Primal Charisma of Adam Driver

With the musical Annette now in UK cinemas, here's how to curate your own Adam Driver season at home in seven key films

In Seven Days of Streaming, we guide you in curating your own mini film season based around an actor, director or film person with a particularly eclectic or underseen filmography, spun over seven days of programming.

Once a US marine and now a Hollywood A-lister, Adam Driver has already lived a life of multitudes. In just a handful of years, Driver has risen from indie sweetheart to certified movie star, becoming one of the most sought-after actors for both blockbuster filmmakers and arthouse auteurs.

His superstar status was firmly solidified with his appearance as Kylo Ren in the new Star Wars trilogy. The Last Jedi saw him truly settle into this role and bring a whole new edge to the saga, imbuing his villain with way more layers than one might expect, and in the process crafting one of the franchise's most complex characters.

Utilising his wide stride and stoic gaze, Driver is also a shapeshifter who can morph to the dark side and back in an instant. At 6″2, his broad frame automatically centres him as a pillar of every scene. But while this primal, charismatic actor may have a distinctive look and recognisable voice, his unique interpretations of every role mean he's constantly transforming his image – and our perceptions.

With Annette now in cinemas, The Last Duel due to premiere in Venice, not to mention the highly anticipated House of Gucci (in which Driver stars beside Lady Gaga) on the way later this year, he shows no sign of slowing down. But some of Driver's best performance are lesser known or little seen. Here are seven features – some you might have missed – that showcase the many sides of this cosmic performer…

 

Day 1: Frances Ha (2012)

Where to watch it: Various streaming services

Adam Driver appears intermittently as Lev, Greta Gerwig's floppy-haired roommate, in Noah Baumbach’s much-loved indie Frances Ha. Driver conducts this role with an assured temperament and while he towers over his fellow actors in height, he's careful not to steal Gerwig’s spotlight or the focus of Baumbach’s meditative film. Instead, he wanders in and out of the frame and leans against doorways as a 20-something lothario – a sculptor who wears a cardigan and rides a motorbike, the epitome of New York’s “modern man.” It's a small role, but Driver infuses every second with a clever duality; while he may seem unbothered by the ever-evolving dynamics of those around him, the intricacies of his posture – the way he avoids eye contact or bows his head to exit a scene – says otherwise.

 

Day 2: Logan Lucky (2017)

Where to watch it: Various streaming services

Driver has proven the subtleness of his acting abilities in indie character studies, but in Steven Soderbergh’s comedic heist film Logan Lucky he gets the chance to shift gears and deliver a boisterous performance in a high-adrenaline role. Driver is the sharp-witted – and one-armed – Clyde Logan, the younger half of a brother duo (the other, Jimmy, is played by Channing Tatum), who joins forces with a small crew to pull off a robbery during one of the biggest NASCAR races of the year. Driver more than holds his own beside his fellow seasoned actors, Tatum and Daniel Craig (enlisted as a safe-cracking criminal). Affecting a heavy West Virginia drawl he never lets up, an accent that emphasises and over-pronounces every other word, Driver comes to feel like a natural in the world of this testosterone-driven high-stakes heist.

 

Day 3: BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Where to watch it: Various streaming services

It is a masterclass watching Driver as Detective Philip “Flip” Zimmerman in BlacKkKlansman, a film that under the direction of legendary filmmaker Spike Lee – earned him his first Oscar nomination. Here, Driver serves as a bridge between the police and the KKK. As an undercover Jewish cop fronting for his Black police partner, he delivers a multifaceted turn as a cop playing somebody else with seamless ease, relaying uncomfortableness to the audience without allowing that tension to bleed into the scene. In one terrifying sequence, he takes a lie detector test opposite an armed white supremacist (Jasper Pääkkönen). It's a fascinating set-piece that sees Driver playing internal turmoil against a hardened exterior, while also considering his physical stature, shrinking in on himself as a gun is waved in his direction.

 

Day 4: Silence (2016)

Where to watch it: Various streaming services

If it's every actor's goal to one day work with Martin Scorsese, Driver achieved the dream earlier in his career with Silence, a tale of two Christian missionaries in search of their missing mentor in Japan at a time when Christianity was outlawed. As the 17th-century Portuguese Jesuit priest Father Francisco Garupe (opposite Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson), Driver taps into a previously unseen level of anguish. While his character is undergoing a test of faith, Silence is a test of extremities for the actor; a role that, up that point, proved to be his most physically demanding. As the film journeys on, his hair grows scraggly and the pounds begin to fall off. His pauses begin to feel like landslides and his words hold so much force that the entire film seems to lay in wait. Even if Scorsese’s 162-minute religious epic proves a bit much, Driver’s undeniably excellent performance guides us through.

Day 5: Paterson (2016)

Where to watch it: Various streaming services

There’s a moment in Paterson where a dog shreds a notebook. Driver, as the titular character, kneels on the floor rearranging the tattered pages that once contained the love poems he poured his heart and soul into. A different actor might shed a tear or scream in frustration, but not Driver: his soft nonchalance results in an even more devastating scene. Paterson adheres to a mundanely simple daily routine: cheerios for breakfast, driving his bus, writing poetry, going to the same bar at the same time for the same beer, then home to his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) before repeating the day all over again tomorrow. Centred in Jim Jarmusch’s contemplative and concentrated character portrait, Driver’s slowly affecting performance builds like a pressurising canister. It’s not at all what we’re used to – he is far quieter and without his usual trademarks. But what a treat it is to witness such a patient turn in what amounts to a very moving character study.

 

Day 6: The Report (2019)

Where to watch it: Various streaming services

An intense exploration of the CIA's use of torture interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists post-9/11, Scott Z. Burns’ The Report offers a thorough deep dive that spans more than a decade’s worth of real-life investigation conducted by a small group of staffers from the Senate Intelligence Committee. Adam Driver stars as real life FBI agent Daniel Jones, who is positioned at the forefront of an extensive inquiry of 6.3 million documents and a compact 6700-page report. The feat of translating the sheer scale of this report onto the screen is shouldered by Driver’s concrete grounding of his determined character, somehow making sequences of sifting through papers and scrolling through PDFs entirely gripping. Conveying this gruelling undertaking from the confines of a claustrophobic box room, spurred by a relentless determination for the truth, this feels like one of Driver's most mature performances to date. Unshowy, but mesmerising all the same.

 

Day 7: Marriage Story (2019)

Where to watch it: Netflix

Marriage Story has the air of a culmination, as though every Driver character that came before had been a mere rehearsal for his divorcee Charlie Barber. Reuniting with director Noah Baumbach seven years after Frances Ha, this Kramer vs. Kramer update sees Driver starring alongside Scarlett Johansson, playing a husband and wife whose marriage is in tatters. Here, Driver combines the meditativeness from Paterson with the intensity from The Report to deliver an emotionally cataclysmic turn, showcasing a volatile depth of passion that's unique only to him. In the same breath, he’ll have you rooting for him and then resenting him. Concluding with a stripped-back but refined performance of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway classic “Being Alive,” in which he sings with clipped and precise propensity before letting himself finally be transported by the affectionate lyrics, Marriage Story ultimately comes to feel like Driver handing you his heart on a plate.

Annette is now showing in UK cinemas.

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