Newest Reviews
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Forever Purge, The
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Deadly Games
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
No Time to Die
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Power of the Dog, The
Voyage of Time: An IMAX Documentary
Suicide Squad, The
One Night in Miami...
Prince of Nothingwood, The
Mr. Jones
Enfants Terribles, Les
Slumber Party Massacre
Bones, The
Newest Articles
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
  Learning to Drive Behind The Wheel Of A Large Automobile
Year: 2014
Director: Isabel Coixet
Stars: Patricia Clarkson, Ben Kingsley, Jake Weber, Sarita Choudhury, Grace Gummer, Avi Nash, Samantha Bee, Matt Salinger, John Hoffman, Michael Mantell, Daniela Lavender, Gina Jarrin, Rajika Puri, Beau Baxter, Randy Graff, Sean Cole, Bryan Burton
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Wendy (Patricia Clarkson) is a literary critic who lives in New York City with her husband Ted (Jake Weber), their student daughter (Grace Gummer) having moved out of the family home and currently on a farm continuing her learning. But stormy waters are ahead for Wendy's marriage, as she has discovered Ted has been cheating on her with a younger woman, and this is not the first time this has happened either. To add insult to injury, to break this news he actually took her out for a meal so she would not make a scene in front of the other diners, but that's precisely what she has done, and they both storm out of the restaurant and into the taxi of Darwan (Ben Kingsley), who also works as a driving instructor: for Wendy, a fateful meeting.

The trio of actors Clarkson, Kingsley and director Isabel Coixet had worked together a few years before this on the drama Elegy, and had got along so well that they were keen to do so again. It took some time, but they managed it on Learning to Drive, an unassuming comedy drama with a touch of romance that did not necessarily play out quite how you would expect. Otherwise, in spite of co-starring an Anglo-Indian actor and director by a Spaniard, it would seem they were all bitten by the bug of New York for this was a film aiming to celebrate its better points while humorously acknowledging the personality of the city as a whole, and the individuals who populated it and lent it that character.

That premise was now Wendy doesn't have a husband around, she does not wish to rely on taxis or public transport to get about (the latter isn't even considered), and would prefer to drive herself. You've seen the title, you're ahead of them, she must indeed learn to drive, and after Darwan arrives at her house the day after the big break-up to return something she left in his cab, she makes a point of taking his business card for future reference. But this was as much a tale of his life as it was hers, and his experiences as an immigrant, specifically a political asylum seeker since he had been a persecuted Sikh in his country of origin, informed much of the drama, seeing NYC from an insider's and outsider's perspective.

Darwan is a spiritual man, in touch with his inner life and exuding a peace and tolerance that is not always shown by his fellow humans, which develops in a curious way in how he went about teaching driving. Just as in a Carry On film where you find yourself seeking out the double entendres in every other line, here his instructions as to how to cope on the road also worked out as life lessons, wisdom to exist by, which was one step away from rendering him a Mike Myers comedy character only Kingsley didn't play him for laughs. He was more serious than that, and you soon understood why as he conceals his illegal immigrant nephew (Avi Nash) from the authorities and must in the second half of the plot negotiate his way through an arranged marriage with Jasleen (Sarita Choudhury).

That latter would appear to scupper any chance of romance between Darwan and Wendy, in spite of coming across as if they would be very compatible and moreover being very aware of the fact, even going out on post-lessons "dates" where they open up about one another and become very good friends. Meanwhile Wendy tries alternately to get Ted back and try to start a fresh relationship with Peter (Matt Salinger) whose tantric sex techniques simply exhaust her in an example of the film's idea of saucy comedy. Such regular references did not sit entirely well with the gentler material of the two leads getting acquainted, but you imagine such crunching gear changes would sit better with some audiences than others, and there was pleasure to be had in simply watching Clarkson and Kingsley interact. But no matter that this was a combination not often seen on the screen, it did resolve itself into a bit of a cliché of female self-empowerment, nothing wrong with that but not as daring as it appeared to think it was. Music by Dhani Harrison and Paul Hicks.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2060 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: