There are a handful of directors who can announce a new film and leave me in a state of happy anticipation through the entire production process, right up until release date. Spielberg, Tarantino, Nolan, Whedon and Fincher are on the list. I added Damien Chazelle to it after Whiplash.
And with the announcement last year of Baby Driver, Edgar Wright’s latest venture, I realised based on my level of excitement that he is very much on that list too.
I must admit, I arrived a little late to the Edgar Wright phenomenon. Shaun of the Dead was already out on DVD when a friend handed it to me and, knowing I’ve got a soft spot for zombie comedy-horror, insisted that I would love it. You might say he was, "Dead Wright!"... but that would make you a complete nerd so maybe don’t.
Shaun of the Dead has a very special place in my heart actually; I watched it, Kill Bill and Zombieland on repeat for about a month whilst getting over a breakup (nothing like blood, gore and revenge to mend a broken heart). Since then it’s joined the ranks of films I’m never not in the mood to see. Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs The World, two other Edgar Wright movies, are also on that list, and I think that’s down to Wright’s ability to masterfully tell a story in a way that seems effortless.
His storytelling tools often go way beyond the script or the shot, pulling in elements like editing or music in highly original ways. The use of music in particular seems to be a major component of Baby Driver, which Wright wrote and directed. It tells the story of a baby-faced getaway driver, played by Ansel Elgort. He suffers from a condition called Tinnitus, which causes a debilitating ringing in his ears, and so he listens to music to drown out the sound.
This sets up the film’s unique angle, which is that all the action is choreographed to whatever song he’s playing at the time. "I love a great song with the right scene. Baby Driver is basically a song for every scene," says Wright, who is currently working on the film’s post production in London and was kind enough to take a few minutes out to speak to me about it.
I asked if the songs were added in post or if the scenes were shot to the music. "We had all the tracks cleared and played them on set," he said, making Baby Driver a borderline musical. I mentioned that he did something like this before with Scott Pilgrim and asked where his passion for music in movies came from.
"This film is no different," he said, "I think music and film together has always been something I enjoyed growing up whether it was American Werewolf In London, Goodfellas or Reservoir Dogs.” So what can we expect tonally from Baby Driver, given that Wright has always leaned into comedy in the past?
"It's a little more serious than the other movies," he says. "It still has humour, but the stakes are more grounded in reality and the action has real world consequences. One element that continues is the use of music throughout." Sounds pretty intriguing to me! And with a cast including Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and Kevin Spacey – who Wright admits being “hypnotised” by on set – I am genuinely excited to see Baby Driver when it comes out later this year.