Release Date: October 13th, 2006 by Sony Pictures Classics.
The Cast: Julie Walters, Rupert Grint, Laura Linney, Oliver Milburn, Michelle Duncan, Jim Norton, Nicholas Farrell, Tamsin Egerton, Rose Keegan.
Directed by Jeremy Brock.
BASIC PREMISE: Ben (Grint), a shy teenager, comes-of-age when Evie (Walters), a retired actress, takes him on a road trip to Edinburgh.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Driving Lessons boasts a bravura performance by Julie Walters as Benís neighbor, Evie, a stubborn old woman who lives alone. Ben canít stand his uptight, super-religious mother (Linney) especially because he thinks she might be cheating on his father (Farrell). He tries to woo a fellow schoolgirl with poetry, but she doesnít seem impressed. When he starts working as Evieís assistant, his life changes. Like Harold and Maude, Ben and Evie gradually warm up to one another as they spend more time together. Evie tricks him into going camping where she swallows Benís car keys only to recover it the next morningófortunately, the actual recovery scene is excluded which would otherwise be very disgusting. Soon, they go on a road trip to Edinburgh where she has been invited to read poetry. At the hotel, Ben loses his virginity to a very sweet girl around his age (Duncan). Even though the plot doesnít include much in terms of originality, the script by writer/director Jeremy Brock includes very lively interactions between Evie and Ben make this film highly engaging and even humorous at times. Rupert Grint, best known for playing Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, shows that he can be both convincing and appealing in a dramatic role. Itís also worth mentioning the picturesque scenery which celebrates the beauty of England and Scotland. But the real pleasure here is watching Julie Walters in a very memorable performance. Youíll find it hard to take your eyes off of the screener whenever during her many scenes.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: During his adventures with Evie, Ben learns how to open up himself to life, so-to-speak, and, most importantly, to be unafraid to follow his passion for poetry. Basically, by the end of the poignant journey, he matures into a real man by standing up for who he really is. Whether or not he will succeed in his future endeavors is an open-ended question, but at least, through her many words of wisdom, Evie gives him a priceless foundation for his innate spiritual growth.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: Funny, refreshing and poignant. The new Harold and Maude. Julie Walters deserves an Oscar nomination.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
The "D" Menu