Directing What You Know


Driving Lessons (2006) Review 5
Director:Jeremy Brock,
Starring:Rupert Grint, Laura Linney, and Julie Walters
Length:98 minutes


As they say in pretty much every writing class, write what you know and auteur Jeremy Brock certainly knows this maxim well. When he was in his teens, Brock, a son of a vicar, spent most of one summer assisting the late legendary actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft (Academy Award winner for “A Passage to India”) in doing her thing. Changing the names to protect the innocent, Brock, the scripter of “Mrs. Brown” and “The Last King of Scotland,” brings us a memoir of a pivotal moment of his youth.

“Driving Lessons” is a slight film. Ben Marshall (Rupert Grint) is a slightly inept son of the local vicar (Nicholas Farrell). When we first meet Ben, he’s taking a driving lesson from his indefatigable mother Laura (Laura Linney), who takes her job as the helpmeet to the spiritual leader of the town very seriously indeed.

So, in order to help support a poor wretched transvestite who’s lodges himself in their humble home, Ben gets a job as an assistant to “Dame” Evie Walton (Julie Walters), a retired actress who is dotty to the extreme. And when Evie gets a gig in Edinburgh, she shanghais poor Ben and makes him drive all the way from suburban London, while his mother fumes.

This leaves the hapless Ben caught between the rock of his mother and the hard place of his employer. And while the two titans chew the scenery with wild abandon, Rupert Grint (Harry Potter’s Ron Weasley) manages to actually hold his own, proving that he can do something besides being a magician’s sidekick. While this is not a great film (it’s too silly in places and the characters are a little broad), it’s rather entertaining. If the local arthouse has a bargain matinee, it is worth a look.