A review of “Driving Lessons” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: PG-13 for language and some sexual content

Run Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

 

 

Rupert Grint deftly sidesteps Hogwarts’ Ravenclaws and Slytherins in this sweet coming of age drama vaguely reminiscent of Hal Ashby’s 1971 classic “Harold and Maude”.

Grint is 17-year old Ben Marshall, an awkward bookish boy who toes a hard line under his demanding mom (Laura Linney as Laura) and his quietly discouraged dad. To add insult to injury Ben is forced to spend his summer holiday in bible classes and learning behind the wheel with mom.

He finally breaks out of the mold by taking a job with an aging actress named Evie Walton (Julie Walters) who is searching for a companion. Someone to help around the house, maybe take a road trip or two.

Evie is pure movie magic – an eccentric of the old school who swears like a longshoreman yet brings the power of her wisdom to every frame. In her custody Ben unfurls like a rose, encouraged to see his home life for the stifling cocoon it really is.

Writer/director Jeremy Brock does a fine job of keeping his scripting fresh while reigning in the narrative; tight, witty and keeping within the bounds of decorum. Unfortunately the climax steps a bit over-the-top, caught up in a mad potential for slapstick.

Walters and Grint play off one another with ease, both taking something precious away from their burgeoning friendship. Linney does bitch-mode with a perfectly suitable English accent.

Sweet, light and satisfying.