Driving Lessons

CAR AND STRIVER Grint tries to stay focused on the road.
CAR AND STRIVER Grint tries to stay focused on the road.

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



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