Drive pic the wheel deal
Driving instructors have a fraught occupation and are people you either learn to loathe, or sort of like. Sir Ben Kingsley would be a sort of ‘like’ as Darwan Singh Tur in this ‘likeable’ American relationship comedy drama.
Sir Ben doesn’t have to act too hard to play the part. He was born 71 years ago in England as Krishna Pandit Bhanji, the son of a Kenyan Indian. He also won the 1982 best actor Oscar for Gandhi and still has that serene quality about him.
Learning to Drive is a quality effort based on an essay in the New Yorker magazine and has the backdrop of New York’s fascinating, colourful Sikh community.
Darwan inherits Wendy
(55-year-old Patricia Clarkson) as his driving pupil, a scary assignment at the best of times, let alone in New York traffic. With her marriage stuffed, she suddenly has no way to get around, except the subway and taxis.
An author, she comes with high maintenance baggage, while Darwan is an Indian voice of calm as they bunnyhop around the streets.
The pair have acted together even more intimately, in the 2008 drama Elegy. It, too, was directed by Isabel Coixet.
Using a driving instructor’s car as the vehicle, Coixet cleverly moulds in one failed marriage with another waiting to happen, along with conservative America’s racial prejudices.
Clarkson just as cleverly portrays a woman down at heel and having to find her way alone. Much of the drama centres about her shakiness behind the wheel and that has its funny moments.
With such acting from two such mature performers and the bonding across disparate cultures, this ‘velly’ good movie is the wheel deal and ideal for downstairs at Cinema Gold. Just be patient with Wendy and ensure your seatbelts are fastened.
Sir Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson take each other for a ride in Learning to Drive.