Time Out says
One lesson offered in this brisk, tonally adventurous and richly detailed entry in the Harold and Maude subgenre is that the umpteenth go-round of a premise doesn’t necessarily ensure brain-drubbing predictability. Loosely based on the friendship between screenwriter-director Jeremy Brock (cowriter of The Last King of Scotland) and Dame Peggy Ashcroft, the film stars Rupert Grint as Ben, an adolescent poet in suburban London whose Bible-thumping mum (Linney) has afflicted him with “social autism.” He goes to work for faded actress Evie Walton (Walters), a free-spirited, near-desiccated dipso who enlists him as her driver to an Edinburgh book festival. Along the way, they develop a mutually liberating bond even as they see each other at their worst; a campout is involved.
There are problems among the film’s charms, including a nearly incomprehensible final act and a score peppered with grating Christian pop tunes. But Grint and especially Walters—who’s by turns hilarious and terrifying—provide a tender, elusive gravity that’s underscored by cinematographer David Katznelson’s Conrad Hall--esque compositions. Driving Lessons’ pigeonholing as a coming-of-age movie is ultimately thwarted, though, by Brock’s understanding of how backward that phrase is; age, he posits, comes to us, unbidden, inevitable and head-on, and the trick is knowing how to steer for minimal impact. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Mark Holcomb