There's more at work here than how to drive a car

Driving Lessons

on October 13, 2006 by Richard Mowe
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The role of Evie, a former grande dame of the British stage and screen, must have seemed tailor-made for that stalwart trouper Julie Walters. Her character is demanding, petulant, vulgar and childish -- and she provides the perfect foil to 17-year-old Ben (Harry Potter sidekick Rupert Grint), who comes from a straitlaced family ruled by a domineering mother (Laura Linney).

Over a madcap summer Evie frees his attitudes and opens his eyes to a wider world -- and also manages to get him into a lot of trouble, such as when she inveigles him into driving her to the Edinburgh Festival for a poetry reading despite the fact that he doesn't have a license.

The narrative develops into a road movie as the pair wind their way North, encountering misadventures and upturning personal preconceptions en route. It's an agreeable piece of whimsy, much of it based on director Brock's own background and upbringing, and the personal touch obviously adds elements of authenticity. Apparently at a similar age to Ben, Brock (who wrote “Charlotte Gray”) came under the influence of one Dame Peggy Ashcroft, who in part was responsible for unleashing his creative energies.

Perhaps it will seem more original beyond its native shores, where audiences have become over-familiar with Walters's gamut of such parts while Grint also is not stretched too far from his Hogwarts outings. That said, it has an appealing feel-good factor and could be this year's “Calendar Girls,” another Brit-flick sleeper hit. Starring Julie Walters, Rupert Grint and Laura Linney. Directed and written by Jeremy Brock. Produced by Julia Chasman. Comedy. A Sony Classics release. Rated PG-13 for language, sexual content and some thematic material. Running time: 95 min..
Tags: Starring Julie Walters, Rupert Grint, Laura Linney. Directed and written by Jeremy Brock, Produced by Julia Chasman, Sony, Comedy
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