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DRIVING LESSONS: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
With yet another dreary school holiday coming around for the shy and downtrodden Ben (Rupert Grint) things couldn't get worse. Seventeen years of living in an absurdly conservative and traditional household with his overbearing mother (Laura Linney) and quiet, mild mannered vicar father (Nicholas Farrell), have taken their toll. Ben spends these precious few weeks attending bible classes, having (unsuccessful) driving lessons with his mother and helping out at the old people's home. Ben's world is turned upside down when he is employed as her part time assistant and gofer by an eccentric retired actress, Evie (Julie Walters). Evie's unconventional, often bizarre behaviour challenges Ben's beliefs and forces him to confront the very idea of who he wants to be.

Review by Louise Keller:
When Rupert Grint's Ben reads his poem to a girl, he is told he's 'just too weird'. But it's not only the poetry in the life of the seventeen year old that is weird. Everything in his life is off kilter - from the ultra Christian fabric in which his daily life is immersed, to Julie Walter's wildly eccentric retired actress Evie, with whom he forges a relationship. This is a warmly funny coming of age story as the ultra conservative clashes with the unconventional in a confluence of the unexpected.

Eve is looking for a playmate and companion, while Ben doesn't know what he is looking for. "Life is confusing," she says to him, as they set up camp in the wilds of Scotland on their way to a writer's convention. Ben's relationship with the unpredictable Eve begins when his Christian charity obsessed mother Laura (Laura Linney with a flawless English accent) suggests he find a part time job and contribute to the wellbeing of the cross-dressing, post-trauma Mr. Fincham (Jim Norton). Ben's minister father (Nicholas Farrell) practises bird-calls and buries himself in his books about birds in a bid to escape from home life, but it is not until Eve literally kidnaps Ben, that he discovers his salvation - and himself.

Learning to drive is the metaphor used to illustrate Ben's journey. From a passive youngster bullied into playing a Eucalypt tree in his mother's church play to the mature young man sprouting poetry by starlight and taking his destiny into his own hands, his unexpected driving lessons advances him great distances - literally and figuratively. The essence of the film lies in the relationship between the elderly eccentric Eve and the impressionable, polite Ben. 'Thank God he swears!' she squeals with delight, when making it impossible for him to go home. She is the catalyst that shakes up the family and more importantly allows Ben to see through the prism of hypocrisies in which he is a prisoner. It's a charming and thoroughly enjoyable film with Grint capably shaking off his Harry Potter sidekick image.

Published November 1, 2007

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

DRIVING LESSONS: DVD (M)
(UK, 2006)

CAST: Julie Walters, Laura Linney, Rupert Grint, Nicholas Farrell, Jim Norton, Michelle Duncan, Oliver Milburn, Tamsin Egerton

PRODUCER: Julia Chasman

DIRECTOR: Jeremy Brock

SCRIPT: Jeremy Brock

CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Katznelson

EDITOR: Trevor Waite

MUSIC: Clive Carroll, John Renbourn

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robin Fraser-Paye

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 7, 2007

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: None

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: October 17, 2007







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