Learning to Drive Review

Posted 3 years ago by myetvmedia

Isabel Coixet’s (Elergy) ‘Learning To Drive’ is an unusual and refreshing modern day drama, a romantic comedy, dealing humorously with things that can crush even the most determined people when the things they hold most dear start to fall apart. Coixet proves once again what a talented director she is, with this beautifully crafted, sensitive drama about coming to terms with loss and love, and the will power to conquering the worst life can throw at us. Its is funny, uplifting. Learning to drive in New York City would be daunting to many, much less a woman of over 50 who has never contemplated such a thing as being a necessity. As Wendy (Patricia Clarkson) says, she has always had a husband to drive as well as the subway, taxis and conveniences of a big city, so why should she have to? Ben Kingsley is cast as the very patient Sikh driving instructor Darwan, who’s charming mannerisms, warm heart and sensitive approach to people cannot help but win them over. Wendy is a Manhattan celebrity of words – a book critic, who is just coming to grips with her husband’s infidelities, the impeding divorce and the huge disruption her life is about to undergo. Her daughter, Tasha (Grace Gummer) breaks the news to her mother that there will be no hoped for reconciliation; this time he has left for real.

The film follows the personal stories of Darwan, an Indian refugee who though once a professor in India has fled the country, leaving everything behind and Wendy, the soon to be divorced, older woman. Darwin’s sister back home has been trying to find him a suitable Indian wife. Eventually he agrees to marry Jasleen (Sarita Choudhury), who arrives from India quite unprepared for NYC. Darwan must learn to manage his new life as a married man while Wendy must come to terms with her life a single woman. This is a heart warming movie that deserves the high praise it received at TIFF (2014) and now at the sold out performance to a highly appreciative audience at the (2015) Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSFilmFest). Isabel Coixet has taken subjects that can be extremely painful and embarrassing and placed them in a light that allows one to laugh at the vagaries of life with all our preconceptions of things shown to be quite ridiculously false. Learning to Drive was adapted to the screen by Sarah Kernochan from an essay in The New Yorker by Katha Pollitt (2002).

Highly recommended.

Moira Romano

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