Complete A-Z list

Learning to Drive


Stars: Patricia Clarkson, Ben Kingsley, Grace Gummer, Jake Weber, Sarita Choudhury, Matt Salinger, Samantha Bee, Avi Nash

Director: Isabel Coixet

Here's a decent little film about love and longing within and across cultural divides. Although it's really not any great shakes in the final reckoning, the film's heart is in the right place and the performances reflect that.

Clarkson is Wendy, a New York book critic whose husband of 21 years (Weber) is leaving her for a younger woman. When Wendy invades his space in the taxi he's just called, the couple quarrel bitterly in the back seat while the perplexed taxi driver, Darwan (Kingsley), looks on.

Moonlightling as a cabbie to supplement his other work, Darwan, a middle-aged Sikh, houses his nephew and two other illegal immigrants in cramped conditions, while keeping on his day job as a driving instructor.

Returning a parcel Wendy has left in the cab, he persuades her to take driving lessons, an assignment that petrifies her more than being left alone, although she rejects her daughter (Gummer) studying farming in distant Vermont, and embarks on a date with an over-enthusiastic lover (Salinger) who leaves her exhausted.

Her excuse for getting out of a second date is that she has a driving lesson.

Meanwhile, Darwan awaits the arrival of an equally middle-aged arranged bride (Choudhury), who soon flounders in unfamiliar NY surroundings.

Kingsley and Clarkson give finely-judged performances that just about hold our interest, up to a touching ending that ties up all the strands of the story in a fairly satisfying fashion.

David Quinlan

USA/Canada/Bahamas/Bermuda 2014. UK Distributor: Vertigo. Colour by deluxe.
89 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 05 Jun 2016