Movie Review – Learning to Drive (2014)
When a woman from New York faces a long-term marriage that is falling apart, she decides one of the many changes she is going to have to embrace is the need to learn how to drive a car for the first time. She meets a Sikh immigrant from India who is her driving instructor, but teaches her much more about how to move forward with her life. At the same time, he to is going through challenges in his own life, and we see the two navigate their stories and draw closer together.
This was an interesting Canadian film, which felt very fresh and unique in the storyline and plot. There were a variety of themes showcased in the film, including relationship challenges, immigration issues, racial tensions, and the impacts of stereotypes the majority has against minority groups. The writing in the film does a good job of bringing this range of issues together. Further, the film illustrates how they impact people, sometimes in a powerful way. For example, the scenes when outright racism occurs is eye opening and jarring, and sadly all too real. The importance of bringing these issues to the screen, and combining them with other themes and elements in the story, was one of the successes of this film.
The acting in the film from the two principal actors is also strong, particularly from Ben Kingsley, who displays a great range of emotion as Darwan, who is working two full-time jobs and struggling with his own relationship pressures. Patricia Clarkson does a nice job playing Wendy, whose marriage is breaking down and who is facing a lot of change in her life. Sometimes the scenes with her and her daughter or ex-husband feel a little strained and not fully realized on the screen, but her scenes with Kingsley are excellent.
Overall, this is an enjoyable film and a thought provoking one on many levels and for many reasons.
Overall: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.