The film “Learning To Drive” is a girl thing. Written,directed and inspired by women, it falls short of giving viewers a comedy or a romance. What we have is a slice of two lives that has that “Lifetime” air.
The film’s premise is intriguing. A well-educated Sikh,who is also a papered, political refugee, works as a cabbie at night and gives driving lessons in Manhattan during the day. Ben Kingsley plays Darwan with an air of “old soul wisdom” and is fun to watch as his understatements point out Patricia Clarkson’s (Wendy’s) histrionics.Clarkson’s plays a New York book reviewer who is blind-sided by her husband’s serious dalliance with a writer she has handsomely lauded. Screenwriter Sarah Kernochan just doesn’t give our seasoned actors the dialogue needed to elevate its basic NYC divorce and move on tale. “Books floated me away” and now I must learn to view all blind spots before pressing the pedal seems too neat. In fact, “taking the wheel” seems like a gauche cliche.
After watching Jake Weber play the perfect husband to Patricia Arquette’s Allison Dubois in the television series “Medium”, it is hard to see him as the philandering husband. As he makes plans to co-habitate in Nyack, we see an unfaithful man who has made up his mind and does not think Wendy and their twenty-one years together is worth a try. Their daughter Tasha (Grace Gummer) is caught in the middle. Director Isabel Coixet does what she can with direct emoting in an underwritten script. I just expected more profundity from a word obsessed family. The British Jake Weber is underrated as he terrifically balances his Ted as scoundrel and sensitive former soul-mate.
I liked the back and forth of Darwan’s and Wendy’s lives. The Sikh culture and the Queen’s upbringing graphically showed that there was ” a lot of merging to do”. Arranged marriages and the will to love linked with “alone and crazy”. Laugh at the tantric sex and the ejaculate Thursdays,feel the face touching and the commode vomiting, but long for a wordier script and a good man who doesn’t need to be reminded that he is a good man.