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  • Carrie Specht

Baby Driver : An Endearingly Atypical Heist Movie


Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver brilliantly portrays the struggle of a young, gifted, and musically “driven” getaway driver nicknamed Baby as he attempts to break free of his incongruous place in the crime world in the name of love and freedom. The film is mostly known for its incorporation of its soundtrack to orchestrate the movements and actions of events on screen to invite audiences into Baby’s world contained between his earbud-plugged ears. Other than having a phenomenal soundtrack, Edgar Wright’s film also features fantastic character design, effective costume design, and stellar editing to take audiences along a joyride in the universe of Baby Driver.

Although the cast all play memorable characters in the film, there is a relationship shared by two characters worth showcasing over the others, which belongs to Buddy, and Baby. As the film progresses, these characters find themselves switching places in that the end of the movie provides Baby with the love of his life Debora, while Buddy’s significant other Darling is taken away from him as a consequence of Baby’s sabotage during a heist. What is important to note about this contrast in fates between the two characters is that initially Buddy’s character was noticeably sympathetic towards Baby for being quiet and “different,” at least during their few interactions that occur on screen. Compared to the wholly untrusting and harsh Griff and Bats, Buddy’s character almost appeared to be a foil to theirs in context of the rough criminal environment Baby is placed in especially for his seemingly innocuous nickname of Buddy.

Buddy's visibly amorous relationship with Darling also serves to suggest to audiences that Buddy might also be different and understanding of Baby, earning temporary trust and respect in his character until he loses Darling. The moment he loses Darling, his heart is torn in half and his character’s demeanor immediately darkens against Baby for indirectly causing her death. A Clyde without his Bonnie, he becomes Baby’s final obstacle to a life of freedom and love with Debora and elicits a conflicted sympathy for his situation—conflicted in that he seeks to destroy Baby and the love of Baby’s life Debora out of vengeance for the death of his own love and happiness. Love motivates the soft-hearted misfit Baby is AND the hardened and violent Buddy, a regular of the criminal world, to do what they do in the movie. Edgar Wright demonstrates the transcendence of love above all else regarding the human condition through this unique approach to the development of these two characters.

One might notice that each recurring character in Baby Driver is often seen wearing the same particular color(s) from scene to scene. Each character’s color appropriately fits his/her personality according to color psychology. For example, Bats—the most violent and irascible character in the film—is always seen wearing something red, the color that communicates danger, blood, and death. The cool and calm Buddy is never seen without dark tones of an equally cool blue color. Bright and outgoing Debora’s personality visibly radiates from her light yellow and baby blue wardrobe when she is seen outside of the workspace. And Baby, the gentle speed demon, wears neutral blacks, whites, and grays, demonstrating a dichotomy occurring with his pacifist existence in the crime world, where loud and colorful personalities like that of Bats thrive.

Baby Driver thus features a colorful palette in its aesthetics which may subliminally convey depth of the characters, and evoke a more powerful emotional response to each character from the audience. Color psychology in design is nothing new, the costume design of the film manages to use it in a unique way to help his audiences easily identify characters and their place in the Baby Driver universe. Edgar Wright and costume designer Courtney Hoffman therefore beautifully achieve a vibrantly colored cast in the movie which works to the plot’s advantage, instead of causing the film to feel cheesy and childish.

The editing of Baby Driver at its core is typical to an action movie; the most memorable high action scenes are edited with rapid cuts and rapidly changing camera angles and movements. What this film does well compared to other action movies with respect to editing is honing in on the emotional impact of each high action scene. Although at times, the editing sacrifices spatial awareness and geometry of each chase scene, the audience is not alerted to any inconsistencies or illogical edits because the editing manages to portray the emotions of each character during chase scenes well. The most notable occurrence of this editing can be found in the opening car chase.

When scrutinized, one may notice that the editing is fast (as expected), but also that it disproportionately shows more cuts of the characters inside the car rather than the car itself and the surrounding space. The same fast and tight shot to tight shot editing is found in the other chase scenes and also achieves the same emphasis on the emotional impact of the scenes, especially in moments where the scene pauses on character developing moments, like the death of Darling, and Baby’s hijacking of an elderly woman’s car. Underlying all these edits is a synchronized soundtrack that complements the visual emphasis of the emotions in each scene, while emulating Baby’s experience whenever he is behind the wheel. Accordingly, the editing regarding both the visual and auditory aspects of the film is purposeful and impactful for audiences.

This heist action movie conducted by a brilliant soundtrack, memorable characters, colorful aesthetics, and impactful editing are just a few traits of the film that make Baby Driver an excellent movie. Edgar Wright certainly deserves recognition for this masterpiece which sets a precedent in cinematic creativity regarding the design of fundamental components of a film as described above. As such, Baby Driver is a different heist movie with its own pleasant surprises guaranteed to make the hearts of audiences race in all capacities.

#EdgarWright #BabyDriver #NeoNoir