Drive pic the wheel deal

The Tribune (NZ) - - BACKYARD BANTER -

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.

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