Thursday, September 24, 2015

Learning to Drive

I spent my Saturday evening getting my indie film fix by seeing Learning to Drive at Cinemapolis. Most movies I see there are very well done, but frankly this one make my film student mind go completely ~~~beserk~~~! It is a dramedy about Wendy (Patricia Clarkson, Shutter Island) a middle aged Manhattan woman who after her husband divorces her, takes driving lessons from Darwan (Ben Kingsley, Schindler’s List, Shutter Island). It was not completely horrible, (Clarkson and Kingsley both gave good performances) but there were production flaws that did not enhance and in some cases, kind of ruined the production.

For one, the cinematography was kind of crappy. There were very few creative shots, and many were badly framed. And in every scene where they were in the car (there were a lot) there was always this awful glare on the windshield. Every time there was this type of scene it was so off-putting because the sound was perfectly audible but we were watching from outside the car??? Also, it seemed like the editing done by Thelma Schoonmaker (The Departed, Wolf of Wall Street) was more salvaging than getting to do creative cuts and all that jazz.

A major thing I found quite jarring was the the story itself. A lot of the themes were very scattered and I felt that there were unnecessary scenes that did not further the storyline along at all. The problem was definitely in the screenplay, because both Wendy and Darwan's reactions were so unrealistically calm whenever she was driving. As someone who learned how to drive once upon a time, I truly felt that the stakes were high enough for the amount of fear she was feeling, because I was in that position once too. Wendy would also go into these flashbacks/hallucinations of her ex husband & father talking to her while she was driving. It's as if the writer was forcing symbolism into the story when it was frankly, a little over the top. The part that really irked me was when there was a really weird will they, won’t they? moment toward the end when Darwan asks Wendy out (even though they were just discussing his marriage) and she rejects him and simply moves on with her life. And then the movie ends with her driving off into the distance????? So overall a very jumpy plot and quite confusing.

Overall, it was a cute movie, but I definitely wouldn't see it again.

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