Thursday, February 05, 2009

"Driving Miss Daisy" (1989) - Movie Review

“Driving Miss Daisy” clearly is a social commentary of the times lapsing from the early fifties till the further sixties with two characters of different race and different belief. But it also is about a relationship which often does not happen. It has Miss Daisy (Jessica Tandy), an old woman brought up as a Jew and stubborn by choice who gets an African American driver Hoke (Morgan Freeman) appointed by her son Boolie (Dan Akroyd). The film begins with her wrecking her car and in the next scene blames the car for the mishap. This is the second car she wrecked and Boolie a character of nicety and understanding hires the right person for the job of driving.

She is an obstinate woman with the old English conservative upper class attitude but at the same time does not want to be identified or called as rich. Hoke is a persistent simple man who is happy as clown and nothing can disappoint him. Or there are things which does disappoint him but the things what Daisy regular does, he seem to understand and knows how to handle it. The things that bother are the tricky ones and quite true and tough subtle emotions comes with it.

Miss Daisy says she is not prejudiced on the basis of race to her son two times. She is the aspiring liberal caught up in the traditional conservative. She has been a teacher and being able to command the respect of many children and high confidence had made her to live by herself in the big old house. She has a house maid Idella (Esther Rolle) a female silent Hoke. Idella has been the heart beat of the kitchen and Miss Daisy likes her because she has been there enough to know the things. Hoke is a new character she does not want to befriend. But Hoke gets something to do around the house. Miss Daisy every time rudely asks him to mind his business and quit working. He does but immediately finds another work to do. He cannot sit idle and take the money from Boolie. Soon Miss Daisy gives in and they start a wonderful journey through history and the sociology of the society put upon them.

Once they begin to know each other the conversation of pulling a stunt by Miss Daisy and Hoke dealing with it moves from a fight to something of a friendly jab match. It becomes clear that neither of them cannot exist without each other’s character. Which is throwing tantrums for Miss Daisy while acting cool and disposing and even putting down her speech for Hoke. They take a long drive. It is for Miss Daisy to wish her relative who is turning 90 and the destination is Mobile in Alabama. Now there is not threatening or dramatic scene to show the racism existed during those times. There is the attitude in which couple of policemen question them and suddenly the nice and pleasant beauty of nature around them where Miss Daisy and Hoke enjoyed their lunch becomes a place of instant danger. The tension is in the change of mood and the fear of something bad might happen is more threatening than the actual event itself.

The matter of racism are taken up in small qualms of acts and words rather than a great action of drama. But what happens is that the blooming development in their relationship. They do not become love birds but something else. Where love does not necessarily take a form of defined social norm. Miss Daisy is indeed a gifted woman. She has lovely son who gets to be under scrutiny of sarcasms from his mom and his wife Florine (Patti LuPone). He also knows how his mother and how Hoke has become to like each other. Truly great supporting work from Dan Akroyd.

Of course the performances which moves the film to another level is from Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy. Now there can be no two ways about their chemistry together. One thing is very certain in that chemistry which is that there could not have been a great film if either of them outsmarted the other. There could never have been a true work developed in that scenario. They are on the same plane and in an immaculate performances very smoothly spread across both of them.

“Driving Miss Daisy” is adapted from a play by Alfred Uhry and directed by Bruce Beresford. It does not have a plot nor does it have the change of personality in characters. Both of them pretty much remain the same where they were with wrinkles getting more and eye glasses gaining thickness in its lens. They have their basic ideology defined in terms of race, colour and religion. What happens is that how they are able to get their points across on each other’s face rude and carelessly and also think about it rationally.

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