Two very different people cross paths in a cab, changing both their lives forever. This is the basic outline for the charming new film LEARNING TO DRIVE. But, this movie is so much more than basic. Sir Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson come together to explore love and life as they enter new stages and become each other’s teacher.
Clarkson plays successful writer, Wendy, whose marriage suddenly falls apart. In order to take control of her new found single life, she navigates selling her home, dating, and relinquishing her comfort behind the wheel. Kingsley becomes Wendy’s instructor after witnessing the intimate crumbling of her marriage in the back of his cab. As he returns some forgotten property to her home, the two become pupil and instructor during the day and dear friends as the film progresses. Kingsley’s Darwan battles some personal struggles of his own as a long time single man finally accepting an arranged marriage. He must learn to communicate with his new bride while letting go of control himself.
Ben Kingsley is brilliant as ever. Never missing a beat in a character that is so beautifully genuine. He is a treasure to watch. Patricia Clarkson is engrossing as always.Lovely and vulnerable, her journey through the film is relatable on all levels. Her accessibility as an actress is palpable. With solid performances from Jake Webber as Wendy’s ex and Grace Gummer as their daughter, this changing family dynamic is one we’ve all come across. Much applause to Sarita Choudhury as Darwan’s new wife Jasleen. This reminds me of how I felt when I moved to India in 2008. A little lost, confused, relying heavily on television to entertain me, and afraid to venture too far outside at first. She is a gem n everything she appears in. LEARNING TO DRIVE will certainly have an audience in the over 30 category. Director Isabel Coixet and screenwriter Sarah Kernochan make a truly cohesive team. I hope we see more from them as a pair in the future.
LEARNING TO DRIVE comes to theaters today
Running Time: 90 minutes Rating: R