REVIEW: Learning to Drive (2014)

learning-to-drive-posterWhen her marriage ends Wendy (Patricia Clarkson) decides to take driving lessons. Her instructor Darwan (Ben Kingsley) is a Sikh man who is having marriage problems of his own. Together they try to help each other both on and off the road.

Wendy’s life has been turned upside down when her husband leaves her for another woman, her daughter Tasha (Grace Gummer) and sister Debbie (Samantha Bee) each try to help her but they still have their own lives to live. Darwan, on the other hand, tries to look after his nephew Preet (Avi Nash) and his new wife Jasleen (Sarita Choudhury). Darwan works to jobs and dishes out good advice but sometimes he doesn’t always take it. He and Wendy form an unlikely friendship and they each learn from each other.

Learning to Drive is perhaps a little predictable but the performances really elevate the film. Clarkson and Kingsley are amazing to watch, their conversations during the driving lessons are interesting and often witty. The pairs chemistry and talent really shines through in those moments.

A great thing about Learning to Drive is that it gives you a small insight into Sikh culture. It’s the little details that shine through and help shows how the various rituals have such an impact on Darwan’s life and how he enjoys being a devout Sikh.

There’s nothing that surprising about Learning to Drive and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a gentle sort of film with a certain amount of charm about second chances and making your own way in the world. 3/5.

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