Driving Lessons (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner06/09/2006

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Its heart is in the right place but Driving Lessons never quite gets into gear, despite a terrific performance from Julie Walters.

What's it all about?
Rupert Grint plays Ben, a shy 17 year old vicar's son, struggling to escape the influence of his pious, over-protective mother (Laura Linney) and his well-meaning but ineffectual father (Nicholas Farrell). However, things change when he takes a job as an assistant to eccentric older actress Evie (Julie Walters) who opens his eyes to life, art and other rites-of-passage staples during an impromptu road trip to Edinburgh.

The Good
Driving Lessons is loosely based on the relationship between writer-director Jeremy Brock (himself a vicar's son) and Dame Peggy Ashcroft when he worked as her assistant. As such, there's a kind of muted Harold and Maude vibe to the film but it suffers from the comparison, because you're constantly wondering how much more interesting it would have been if it had gone in that direction (i.e. if they'd had a romantic relationship).

Walters is terrific as Evie, comfortably stealing the film with her boozy, outspoken performance. Grint does well to keep up but his character is essentially passive for most of the film for example, it's difficult to see why Edinburgh fling Bryony (Michelle Duncan) would be attracted to Ben, unless she has a thing for Ron Weasley lookalikes who are ten years her junior.

The Bad
The normally excellent Linney is badly miscast and never really convinces in the part, whilst the supporting cast are either unconvincing (Duncan) or underdeveloped (Tamsin Egerton as Sarah).

In addition, the film bungles its supposedly emotional climax, leaving the audience frustrated and vaguely dissatisfied. Basically, the script could have done with the judicious application of a few decent cliches, there are several familiar scenes that have worked brilliantly in other films but fall rather flat here.

Worth Seeing?
This is an average, occasionally disappointing drama that will find a much better home on TV.

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Driving Lessons (15)
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Content updated: 22/10/2017 18:32

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