September 24, 2015, SilverCity
Showtimes: 6:40 pm & 8:25 pm
Director: Isabel Coixet
Cast: Patricia Clarkson, Ben Kingsley, Grace Gummer
Runtime: 90 min
Toronto International Film Festival 2014: People’s Choice Award, 2nd place; Provincetown International Film Festival: Best Feature
“Coixet, Clarkson and Kingsley have worked together previously (in the 2008 drama Elegy), but this is the Spanish filmmaker’s first crack at comedy. She passes the test, seemingly with ease.”–Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail
Isabel Coixet’s slice-of-life comedy/drama Learning to Drive stars Patricia Clarkson as Wendy, a middle-aged book critic who is shattered when her husband Ted (Jake Weber) leaves her. In order to visit her daughter (Grace Gummer), who lives upstate, Wendy begins taking driving lessons from Darwan (Ben Kingsley) an American citizen originally from India who makes a living as a cabbie and giving driving lessons. The two strike up a friendship that helps her learn to take control of her life, and him adjust to his new life after an arranged marriage.
This two-character comedy-drama may initially sound like it should have been called Driving Miss Patricia, but a lot more is going on here. Clarkson explodes with savage brilliance on the discovery of her husband’s infidelity while we also savour the charms of Kingsley’s strangely inscrutable cabbie.
They’re brought together by the long arm of coincidence (she leaves an envelope in his cab; he returns it) and their contact is maintained as the driving lessons commence. The screenplay by Sarah Kernochan is full of unexpected grace notes that illuminate these two strange loners in fascinating ways.
Director Isabel Coixet keeps the sentimentality to a minimum and the richly textured detail of their lives to a maximum, leaving us with an adult story. Learning to Drive may be a small movie, but it’s a haunting one.