Wednesday, September 16, 2015

[Review] Learning to Drive

Ben Kingsley plays an Indian man again, in this actually very pleasant indie dramedy Learning to Drive.

Darwan (Kingsley) is a calm Taxi driver who teaches students to drive on the side (not literally on the side, but you know what I mean). One night he befriends a woman named Wendy (Patricia Clarkson), who is reeling from a recent divorce. Wendy doesn't have her license, so she decides to take lessons from Darwan so she can drive visit her daughter.

This sounds a bit ho-hum, but the film is more about the blossoming of their friendship. In a sense, they both become each other's guides. And of course, the driving of the car serves as a metaphor for taking control of their lives in a positive and impactful manner, both for themselves and others around them, as well as steering clear of other people that do the opposite. "Not all drivers can be trusted!" Along the path, Darwan has to deal with his own struggles of being frequently discriminated against in a post-9/11 New York City.

As expected, Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson both give really charming performances, and the film probably wouldn't thrive that well if they didn't. With light touches of humor and a lot of heart, Learning to Drive is a genuinely sweet story, and its pull is irresistible. It's the good schmaltz.


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