Driving Lessons
Julie Walters, Rupert Grint, Laura Linney
Directed and written by Jeremy Brock
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2007
98 minutes

If you enjoyed the great dark comedy Harold and Maude you will probably like Driving Lessons starring Rupert Grint of Harry Potter movie fame, Julie Walters -who plays his mom in the Potter movies, and Laura Linney, who has never been in a Potter movie. Driving Lessons DVD is not as dark and energetic as a Harold and Maude but it tries for that same kind of humor and lead characters.

Driving Lessons is one of those metaphor movie titles. Here, Driving Lessons stand for the ability of the main character to learn to take control of his life and be on his way and also his ability to navigate the roads of life. The metaphor works for a while.

Ben Marshall (Rupert Grint) is the somewhat strange and very passive son of a minister and his very Christian and despotic wife. Ben is constantly taking driving lessons from his mother (Laura Linney). This because he is a rather bad driver (one of the lodgers in the Marshall home is a man whose wife Ben ran over) and because this allows his mother to leave the house and have an affair with another, younger minister. He gets a part time job with Dame Evie Walton a faded star of the stage who needs a little help around the house. Dame Evie is as eccentric and full of life as Ben is sober. She eventually tricks him into taking a road trip that will help him grow.

It is the way the always seemingly hunched over Rupert Grint plays his character that takes a bit away from this darkish comedy DVD. Yes, Ben is a passive innocent but Grint often fails to bring enough energy to his character so the life driving lessons he takes often seem more like trips to the corner store than adventures on the highway of life. This is even more obvious when compared to the great fun Julie Walters is having with her role.

There are a couple of things in Driving Lessons, such as the cross-dressing boarder, that fail to make sense aside from just being a weird joke and a set up for a bizarre event. This and the previous scene, however, only show how often this movie seems to pull its punches, leaving the viewer a bit nonplussed, especially when it comes to this movie’s ending.

Still, Driving Lessons is an enjoyable though not memorable little movie.


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