DRIVING LESSONS Add To My Top 10
Another Shallow, Anti-Christian Stereotype
Release Date: October 13, 2006
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 24 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Jeremy Brock
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Julia Chasman
Writer: Jeremy Brock
Address Comments To:Michael Barker and Tom Bernard
Sony Pictures Classics
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833
Web Page: http://www.sonyclassics.com
Rupert Grint, who plays Harry Potter's friend Ron in the HARRY POTTER movies, stars as 17-year-old Ben. Though nearly 18, the shy Ben is completely under the thumb of his mother, Laura, played by Laura Linney. Laura is a strict Evangelical who's enamored with their church's music leader, another earnest Christian who clashes with Laura's husband, Robert, the church vicar. Robert is a meek pastor who can't communicate with his own family and preaches work righteousness at the church. Robert has withdrawn from his family into a fascination for bird-watching. Of course, if Robert truly were into preaching work righteousness, he would be a much more active figure than pictured here.
While other children are on summer vacation, Ben attends Bible classes, takes driving lessons from his overbearing mother, and helps his mother at an old folks home. Ben's straight-laced world is turned upside down when he gets a job assisting Evie, an eccentric retired actress played by Julie Waters. Evie drafts Ben as her partner in a series of adventures. They culminate in a road trip to a camping site and a literary festival in Edinburgh, where Evie's scheduled to give a reading.
On the trip, Ben discovers his manhood with a young seductive college student, but he gravely disappoints and fails the insecure, childish and vulgar Evie. Back home, Ben's mother humiliates him by making him play a demeaning role in the church's Christmas pageant. Only Evie can save the day and set Ben and Ben's father free from this harpy, who also turns out to be a moral, spiritual hypocrite.
Although the acting in DRIVING LESSONS is excellent, the plotting needs work, especially in the middle. Also, the characters don't always make sense, and the direction is serviceable but not outstanding. Furthermore, if the mother in this movie were not such a negative, false and one-dimensional stereotype and the father not a weak heretic, DRIVING LESSONS could have been more biblical, more inspiring, less shallow artistically, and perhaps even redemptive. Sadly, the filmmakers not only turn the strongest Christian in the story into the villain, they also side with the father's rank heresy, as well as Ben's sexual dalliance with the college student. Thus, the movie's dominant pagan worldview is an abhorrent, politically correct, immoral, anti-Christian attack on God's Love.
DRIVING LESSONS clearly sides with Ben's rebellion and sexual experimentation, and with Ben's father, who preaches works righteousness from the pulpit. Sadly, the filmmakers turn Ben's mother, the strongest Christian character, into a stereotypical, one-dimensional villain. Thus, although the acting is excellent, the movie's worldview is an abhorrent, politically correct, immoral, and anti-Christian attack on God's Love.