Friday, February 13, 2009

"Driving Lessons" (2006) - Movie Review

The oddest and the outlandish speakers amongst us would be the greatest inspiration in peculiar of times. Sure they will be cocky, inappropriate and effortlessly embarrass their company and walk on with pride and valour but they have a knack for embracing the hidden honesty of life. Such is the character of old Evie Walkton (Julie Walters), an out of fame actress drenching herself in high class alcohol drinking of wines and what not. She employs a teenager who has not lived his teenage years as any one of his age would have. This is Ben (Rupert Grint) a boy at the footsteps of being a man and has been trained to be a true Christian.

“Driving Lessons” a charming film from the land of UK brings these two characters together, sometimes around Evie’s house and a sufficient time on the road of the beautiful views on the ways to Scotland. Ben has been sheltered and controlled by the mother we would not want to be around, Laura Marshall (Laura Linney). A religious zealot and suffocates by her vicious and adulterated acts of being nice, doing good and also having an affair. Her husband, Ben’s father (Nicholas Farrell) is a vicar who has a true understanding of his belief but has lost his control to Laura. He is intrigued by ornithology (a word I thought would never use in film review). And the nauseating nicety of Laura extends to let a crazy man (Jim Norton) to stay at her home. This is the family Ben is in.

Bound by shyness and being constantly chauffeured by her mom into what to think, act and behave, Ben has lost his identity. He writes secretive poems to a girl (Tamsin Egerton) he has crush on. While she is interested in Ben, there is a pretty girl attitude and a nature to move away from the shyness Ben brings upon. With everything around him melting down his years of being a boy, Ben finds in to the world of Evie. An actress with a great like for literary works, Evie is rude, loud and some how enthrallingly entertaining in her behaviour.

In between these two comes a friend ship which of course takes them to the place reality has long had them due for. Evie has one or two life lessons and Ben has a whole lot to live on. They both get to see the outside world for a change from the walls they have been kept inside. “Driving Lessons” could have been another “Scent of a Woman” unsuitably and badly mimicked but it gets the grip of the originality when it returns from the journey and let Ben put into test. Rupert Grint seemed to be completely comfortable in being the Ben not ready to blow up but beginning to bundle up his energy for an explosion towards Laura. It is not cinematic or made up but a simple and honest eruption of anger on his parents. His mom for being who she is and his dad whom he likes and wishes to stand up a little bit more for himself.

Have we seen an animated character of Evie in real life? I guess we have seen them in intensity both higher and lower with their own sense of flavour to it. There is always a thriving vigour for glory and the fame which never found its way to Evie. She in her tiny final bits of dissolving fragments of her celebrity wants to taste beyond its capacity. She sees the young boy losing a different part of himself and to leave it without being experienced is something she would not want him to do. She helps him in finding the path he always knew but hesitated to take. She becomes his guide but she is afraid to take him due to her fear of inability while at that moment, he gives her the helping hand.

“Driving Lessons” had handful of times at the guards of disaster for a melodrama unwanted but quite cleverly escapes it sans injuries. It is striking in its characters and its eye for locations not engulfing the story but adding a substance of character to it. A role like this for Laura Linney is an attractive take as an actor but doing it would have felt a little bit cliched for her. Not that it is any kind of unoriginal but it seems she can handle more than this. It is a personal opinion and in no way signifies a criticism of her acting in this film. On the contrary, it is spot on. Writer/Director Jeremy Brock gives a warm film with corky characters with a pleasurable experience in drama and comedy.

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