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Driving Lessons

All Ben wanted was a job. All Evie needed was a friend.

As a scriptwriter, Jeremy Brock (Mrs. Brown, Charlotte Gray) gravitates toward strong women and, in his directorial debut, sandwiches Harry Potter sidekick Rupert Grint between two mother figures (Julie Walters and Laura Linney, both thesping up a storm) whose respective excesses balance each other perfectly. Ben (Grint), a willing drudge for his mother Lauraís (Linney) indefatigable Christian works, dutifully brings food to elderly shut-ins, patiently performs in the church play or resignedly sits down to dinner with his motherís latest live-in charity case. Following up on mumís smiling suggestion that he get a summer job, Ben takes a position with self-proclaimed "Dame" Evie Walton (Walters), an outrageous over-the-hill actress. Evie tricks Ben into an unauthorized excursion to Edinburgh, where he loses his virginity and his job. A battle for Benís soul ensues, pitting his motherís Christian pageantry against Dame Evieís full-blown melodrama in a high camp church showdown. The fact that the script is quasi-autobiographical (as an adolescent, Brock, a vicarís son, spent a summer with Dame Peggy Ashcroft) canít mitigate its predictability. On the other hand, the forceful performances of the two main divas manage to more or less blast away the moral bulwarks of this otherwise conventional coming-of-age story. The fanatic gleam in Linneyís eyes as she oh-so-sweetly lays down the law is matched only by the spectacle of her shuddering attempts to control her fury when thwarted. Walters chews up scenery in grand manner, nicely teetering between drunken helplessness and zesty hedonism. Grint, maintaining puppy-dog altruism, holds his own in the matriarchal maÎlstrom, redheadedly adorable to the end. - Ronnie Scheib, Variety
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Directed by: 
Jeremy Brock
Running Time: 
Julie Walters, Laura Linney, Rupert Grint, Michelle Duncan, Oliver Milburn
Screenplay by: 
Jeremy Brock

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