Isabel Coixet's LEARNING TO DRIVE
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
My wife wasn’t able to get tickets to Learning to Drive while attending this year’s Traverse City Film Festival so when I learned it was showing at the nearby AMC Loews Shirlington theater in Alexandria I grabbed tickets for a Friday night out.
Granted, it’s a romantic “feel-good” movie so it is appropriate for “date night number one.” Fortunately the lead performances from Patricia Clarkson and Sir Ben Kingsley propel it way beyond its clichéd roots. I enjoyed it and I think you will too especially if you’re looking for an adult non-action-film with heart and humor.
Story: Patricia Clarkson’s middle-aged New York writer’s husband leaves her. Rebounding she starts taking driving lessons so she can visit her daughter in Vermont. The unmarried driving teacher is an Indian-American Sikh played by Kingsley. At the same time the driving teacher’s sister sends him a woman to marry from India, sight unseen. Relationships develop as the driving lessons proceed.
I know, told that way you want you want to roll your eyes. Another cross-cultural romance where the partners navigate the standard bumps and potholes?
Not really, and that’s the charm of this movie. Clarkson and Kingsley elevate the film far above its roots even though the laughs and tears do have a familiar ring to them. Kingsley especially is a joy to watch. This guy was the Mandarin in the last Iron Man movie? Yep, same actor. Talk about versatility!
It is fun to watch how the movie and characters develop over the course of the driving lessons. Every now and then it is nice to see an adult film about relationships and interesting characters. Learning to Drive scratches that itch.
Review copyright (c) 2015