"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!
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.
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.
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.