A Modern Day Reflection of 'Harold and Maude'
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"DRIVING LESSONS is a little film that sneaks up on you. What at first seems to be a bit of fluffy nonsense comedy British style is at its base a very fine story about coming of age and the needs for significant friendship of both the young and the elderly. Writer Jeremy Brock ('Mrs. Brown', 'Charlotte Gray', 'The Last King of Scotland') here directs his own screenplay and the result is a cohesive, progressively involving tale filled with fascinating and diverse characters, each performed by sterling actors.
Ben Marshall (Rupert Grint, standing firmly on his own as a developing actor post 'Harry Potter' series) is a quiet, plain little poetic seventeen-year-old living with his bird watching Vicar father (Nicholas Farrell) and his obsessive compulsive, rigid, evangelical do-gooder mother (Laura Linney) in a home where 'needy people', such as the murderous cross-dressing Mr. Fincham (Jim Norton), take precedence over family matters: the mother is by the way having an affair with priest Peter (Oliver Milburn), using Ben as her cover!
Sad Ben is among other things attempting to learn to drive a car. His mother is a poor teacher and decides he needs professional lessons AND needs to get a job to help pay for poor Mr. Fincham's needs. Ben follows an ad and meets Dame Eve Walton (Julie Walters), an elderly has-been actress who is as zany as any character ever created. She hires Ben and the fireworks begin. Through a series of incidents, including a camping trip Evie demands they take, the two learn life's lessons missing from each other's natures: Ben learns self respect and self confidence and Evie finds a true friend who will allow her to drop her stagy facade and be the dear human being she has been hiding.
Julie Walters, always offering the finest skills of acting in every character she creates, finds a role like no other here: she is outlandishly wild and lovable. Rupert Grint is exactly the right choice for the challenged coming of age Ben. The chemistry between the two is as tender as that in the classic film 'Harold and Maude'. Laura Linney is as always a superb actress playing a role quite different from her usual repertoire. And the supporting cast is a panorama of fine characterizations. This film is a delightful surprise and one sure to warm the heart and entertain those who love fine writing and direction and acting - and message! Grady Harp, July 07
Where "Dead Poet's Society" Failed,
Louise A. Hawkins | Huntsville, AL USA | 06/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Driving Lessons" succeeded. However simple the story may be, the messages and character dynamics are brilliant.
The story begins with Ben (played by Rupert Gint), a teenage boy raised by a repressive mother (Laura Linney) and passive father, acquiring a job with an older actress.
The film follows the two leads who play with the "old couple" dynamic; yet underneath, the story is about the actress, "Dame" Evie Walton, releasing the suppressed character of Ben. Throughout the film Ben blossoms as a writer and poet, discovering the good in life while faced with it's brevity.
Definitely worth watching. There's a lot of films which boast a sort of "grandeur" about poetry and youth, but essentially fall short and sometimes even flat. This story does not. It's simple, comedic and sweet without becoming contrived."
Rupert Grint has grown up!
Ghenet B. Pinderhughes | 05/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Driving Lessons at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2005, and I fell in love with it! I have always been a fan of Rupert, from the Harry Potter movies, and was excited to see him in another role. This was a great role for him to break out in. The first time he sayd f*ck, i was shocked! but it works incredibly well for the character Ben. There was a twist at the end i wasn't expecting, but I pretty much just wanted to give him a hug when the credits rolled up. I have been waiting for the DVD for AGES, and cannot wait to own it!!"