Monday, September 7, 2015
Learning to Drive Film CommentaryBy Tinsel & Tine Blog Contributor, Linda Visconti
My mother never drove. She was satisfied with the urban substitute of public transportation and a husband willing to drive her elsewhere. I thought my mother sentenced herself to an unnecessary prison. It frustrated me that she wouldn't face a fear that I saw as easy to overcome. “Learning to Drive” helped me to understand the paralysis of this particular fear and the not-so-easy road to overcoming it.
Fear of driving is not the only fear that this film addresses. The fear of being left, the fear of committing to marriage, the fear of political persecution – all are a part of this story masterfully engaged by the powerful duet of Patricia Clarkson (Wendy) and Ben Kingsley (Darwan). They meet in Kingsley's New York City taxi as Clarkson's husband (Jake Weber) tries to prevent her from entering, after blindsiding her with the news he’s leaving her for another woman - with emotions and verbal exchanges raging high, Kingsley, a Sikh Hindi from Punjab, India, observes circumspectly.
In all the upset and drama, Clarkson forgets a package in the taxi. It's returned by Darwan the next morning, only now he’s wearing his second hat as a Driving School instructor. Wendy hesitantly requests Kingsley's driving school business card, which opens the door for their unlikely friendship. Delicately, their lives begin to intersect, the soft beauty of their deepening friendship flows easily.
As Clarkson's marriage ends, Kingsley's arranged marriage begins; as Clarkson's daughter (Grace Gummer daughter of Meryl Streep) fears returning to college after a broken relationship; Kingsley's nephew (Avi Nash) fears deportation; as Clarkson faces her paralyzing fear of driving; Kingsley begins to fill his empty marriage with the intentionality of time spent together. Culture and circumstances vastly different, yet seemingly relatable.
Recently, I've had the joy of a beginning friendship with two young Sikh men. Kingsley portrays well the calm kindness and loving respect that is their spiritual and cultural norm.
Appearing in person after the viewing, Clarkson's pleasure in “Learning to Drive” was evident. Her explanation of her terror having to drive in New York made her comment even more compelling: “Everything in the movie is real.”
“Learning to Drive” is worth the trip.
T &T's LAMB Score: 3.5 outta 5
Visconti's View: 5 Flights Up and Seymour: An Introduction
As Linda mentioned above our preview screening of Learning to Drive included a post screening Q&A with the star, Patricia Clarkson at The Prince PFS. It was moderated by BEN F.M. Radio personality Marilyn Russell. Below is an excerpt, where Clarkson talks, Tantric Sex, Sir Ben Kingsley, Driving in New York City and more...
Note:video will not be visible to those receiving Tinsel & Tine via RSS Feed. Click HERE to view
Storytelling made easy with 3 simple steps using muvee Reveal X
Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog