Monday, August 25, 2008

On the road

I watched Driving Lessons, starring Rupert Grint, Laura Linney, and and Julie Walters, this week. Though it definitely had its trite moments, it's worth seeing for Julie Walters' great performances and to take a look at what Grint can do minus his Hogwarts wand.

Grint plays Ben, a 17-ish young man with an overbearing mother (Linney). Ben's mom, a priest's wife, makes it her personal mission to take care of all the aged people in their neighborhood, and she enlists Ben's help in caring for them. She also demands a strict schedule of driving lessons (administered by herself, of course) so that Ben can earn his license (which has been, thus far, elusive). Finally, she suggests that Ben get a summer job so that he can contribute his income to helping another one of his mother's projects - an older man who accidentally ran over his wife and is now living with them until he "recovers."

In this suffocating environment, Ben takes a job as the assistant to an aging actress, Evie (Walters). Evie is the original free spirit, mixed with equal parts vanity, insecurity, short temper, and loneliness. The two are oddly compatible, and Ben soon begins learning all kinds of things about life from Evie's quick one-liners and current struggles.

Though I thought the script could have been a bit tighter, and I thought that Grint's character could have undergone more meaningful change, I liked this film. Walters is amazing in it, and she clearly anchors the whole production. (With a lesser actress in this role, the whole film would have come tumbling down.) Grint has the hunched, insecure, shy act down pat, but I longed to see more of a transformation in him during the course of the film. Also, I would like to see Grint eventually play a character more dramatically different from Ron Weasley. If he doesn't do so, and soon, he will be relegated to this character type for a while.

Worth watching for the one-liners and for Walters' performance.

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