Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Film Review: Driving Lessons

She collects Steelo and has a pet rock called Dean. She dislikes pink and makes dresses out of curtains. Here's another smashing fillum review from our resident movie buff and all round nice girl, Renee A:

It’s nice to see that some members of the Harry Potter coterie are getting work outside of the series. And no, I’m not referring to Daniel “I’ll star in edgy plays where I strip off to show I’m a serious actor” Radcliffe, but rather Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Julie Walters (Mrs Weasley). Grint plays Ben, the emotionally repressed son of a pastor and an uptight, self-righteous, overbearing mother (Laura Linney). Ben gets a summer job as an assistant to eccentric, occasionally alcoholic actress Evie, a character that Walters inhabits with evident enthusiasm.

I read somewhere that this movie is just a starring vehicle for Walters, and that everyone else pales in comparison beside her*. I disagree. Walters is fabulously over the top and revels in spouting Shakespeare and poetry every spare moment with passion and gusto, and she does raise a chuckle or four with her performance. But Grint does a bloody good job of playing the straight man and he shows that he’s learnt a thing or two on the Harry Potter set. Sure, he overdoes it here and there, but mostly, through Grint’s performance, it’s with Ben that I connected. And Linney is fantastic as, essentially, the villain of the piece.

Driving Lessons is a tale of discovery, friendship and growing up. A “coming of age story” as the Hollywood suits might say. Apart from an unsettling sub-plot concerning a crazy old man who ran over his wife and an ambiguous commentary on Christianity, I found this film to be a solid, enjoyable watch. It didn’t blow me away, but it does get bonus points for being set in London and Edinburgh (those places just rock my socks). I shall give it two and a half out of five Ron Weasley indie haircuts (this was a difficult decision; I almost gave it three, but not quite).

*No, I haven’t the details of where this comment is from. I don’t remember. Or possibly I’m making it up.

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