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Metro In Focus: Baby Driver is a heist flick that can best be called an ‘action musical’

By Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Ever had one of those moments where a random song playing on the radio is the perfect soundtrack for your life in that instant? Director Edgar Wright calls that a #babydrivermoment.

“I think so many times you have things in life where music syncs up with the world,” he says. “You’re sitting there and the windscreen wipers are going in time with the music and you think, ‘Isn’t life great? The world is bending to my music choices.’”

He had one of those moments 22 years ago when the idea for Baby Driver flooded into his brain after listening to The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion track Bellbottoms on repeat. In that instant he imagined the song’s choppy rhythm as the soundtrack to a car chase, filing the idea away for future consideration.

“In 2002 I felt I had potentially squandered the idea by using it for a music video (Blue Song by Mint Royale) and I was mad at myself for doing that,” he says. “Later, after Hot Fuzz I thought, ‘I still have to do something with this idea.’”

With the opening already mapped out, Wright spent years creating the film’s story of a get-away driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort) who wants out of his life of crime and into the arms of a diner waitress played by Lily James. But before they can run off to the happily-ever-after, the driver must square his debt with gang boss Doc (Kevin Spacey).

“It was a slow building up of what the movie and the structure was and finding the main theme of the main character’s relationship with music; this getaway driver who can’t drive unless he has the right music. Then it became, ‘Why is he obsessed with music?’ OK. He has tinnitus and he has to listen to music. What was an escape for him becomes an obsession.”

“A hum in the drum” is how Doc refers to Baby’s tinnitus. In real life it’s a hearing condition that causes an internal, loud ringing or clicking. As the sound can interfere with concentration, Baby plays music to drown it out.

Although it contains more music than most tuneful movies, Baby Driver isn’t a musical in the West Side Story, Sound of Music sense. Wallpapered with 35 rock ‘n’ roll songs on the soundtrack, it’s a hard-driving heist flick that can best be called an action musical.

“The strange thing is people say it is a departure from the other films,” says the Poole, Dorset, England-born Wright, whose other movies include cult favourites Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, “and it is but it is also my oldest idea. I couldn’t have made it 10 years ago. I had to live in North America a bit more. I have lived in Los Angeles and Toronto. I drove across the States twice. I also did lots of research. That all factored into bringing this dream I had when I was 21 to vivid life.”

This weekend Wright will see that dream hit theatres. “I don’t know whether to feel like a proud father or whether it is like my kid is leaving home,” he says. “I feel like when the film is out I may get empty nest syndrome. It has been with me for so long and now it is out. It is a beautiful thing and I don’t know how to describe it.”

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