Published Mar 13, 2007Funny, I thought Britain had actual cinema going on there, until I walked into Driving Lessons and saw how far things had degenerated. Harry Potters Rupert Grint stars as Ben Marshall, a put upon young man with an overbearing religious mother (Laura Linney) and distant Anglican priest father (Nicholas Farrell).
Though our hero is a sensitive lad who likes to write poetry, he cant change his family arrangements or come off as normal to the hottie hes got a crush on. Hes basically resigned himself to living under mums thumb until he takes a job with retired actress Evie Walton (Julie Walters), who is the "passionate life force so familiar from these types of movies, and in no time flat shes got the boy standing up for himself and sleeping with Irish girls Good for him, but unfortunately the program requires Walters to make sweeping arm movements and speak awkward dialogue about the greatness of Shakespeare, the only playwright writer/director Jeremy Brock seems to know.
In fact, the whole thing has been drawn from the Harold and Maude template, and while there are thankfully no Cat Stevens songs this time around theres also a lack of conceptual force that made the earlier film a cult classic. Nothing about Driving Lessons suggests that Brock has been thinking about anything other than a genre to which he has come a day late and a dollar short; hes not even particularly interested in that form, just in pounding out a screenplay so he can say that he made a movie.
The results are neither funny nor credible; its the kind of "uplifting comedy that would only be completed by a ride in a hot-air balloon.