As her marriage dissolves, a Manhattan writer takes driving lessons from a Sikh instructor with marriage troubles of his own. In each other’s company they find the courage to get back on the road and the strength to take the wheel.
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Much like last week's "A Walk in the Woods," a decidedly simple, charming film that keeps things on a human scale and even shows differing cultures clashing in a totally believable way (take note at the wealth of Hell Ben Kingsley's character endured and how mannered and relaxed he is versus Patrick Clarkson's character). A bit sentimental, and too reliant on a desperately simple metaphor, but works well in the end.
Audience pleaser that finds a woman whose marriage has just ended deciding to take the wheel of her own life and destiny by first literally learning to drive from a Sikh driving instructor with marital issues of his own. A performance film of the first order with warm turns by Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson reteaming for Coixet after the very different 'Elegy'. A touch contrived, a little predictable but fun.
The quality of acting from Kingsley and Clarkson is what makes this lightweight script work. Two lost souls discover common ground and feelings around moving forward, across a cultural divide under the metaphor of learning to drive. Not bad.
"Learning To Drive" is like a proper meal or dish, but with no salt & pepper and no other spices at all. Or, in other words, it is just sitting between all the chairs. Since it is not dramatic enough for a drama, not comedic enough for a comedy, not romantic enough for a romance, it just becomes a flat & dull movie, despite great acting performances of Mrs. Clarkson & Mr. Kingsley.
It's wonderful how the writers came up with a genuinely lighthearted story that is exquisitely simple and so beautifully told. It goes to show you do not have to complicate things to slay your audience. Ben Kingsley is remarkable. I love the acting. I love the story. I love the approach. This is such a joy to watch. I didn't even realize an hour and a half of my life had passed, and it's far from wasted. I loved it!
I am not a big fan of this kind of sentimental plot, but the cast on this one goes a long way. Every character brings a lot of sympathy and credibility to the whole. Must say it is sad to see Mr. Kingsley once again stereotyped, but his rendition on this movie is filled with beauty.