Review: ‘Driving Lessons’ by Sarah

published February 2006
written by Sarah one-day-my-surname-will-be-Grint Kavanagh

For all of you lovely, Rupert loving people out there (and there are a lot of you) who didn’t get to see his wonderful movie last week, here’s my review, which will go into a lot of detail about his upper body, among other things.

WARNING: This review is one giant spoiler, I’m basically going to give away everything that happens (well, as much as I can remember, anyway) so if you don’t want to know, don’t read it. And also, I may forget a few little bits, or get the order of some scenes wrong, so sorry in advance.

Just a brief little list of the characters:

  • Rupert Grint the gorgeous: Ben
  • Julie Walters: Dame Evie Walton
  • Laura Linney: Laura, Ben’s mum
  • Tamsin Egerton: Sarah
  • Michelle Duncan: Bryony
  • Some other dude: Ben’s dad
  • Some other old dude: Mr. Something (Fincham), can’t remember his name, so I’ll call him that (sorry I can’t remember the last two guys, but they’re not that important.)

The movie opens with Ben cycling around on his bike (unbelievably fast, he must have strong thighs…), and doing chores for old people, who are all very sweet to him. One of the old men wishes him good luck with his driving test. Then we see a car driving around, and we hear an instructor asking Ben to take an exit off a roundabout, which he doesn’t do, and then Ben crashes the car into a tree.

Then he gets into the car with his mum Laura, and asks her if he can get proper lessons, from a proper instructor, but his mum refuses, and tells him that she’s been driving for 20 years. At his house, Ben has dinner with his mum, his dad (who is a vicar) and a strange old man, Mr. Fincham. Laura tells Ben that, because Mr. Something ran over his wife with a car, he will be staying with them for a while until he gets back up on his feet. She suggests that Ben gets a job to help put money towards his plight. It is also clear that Laura and her husband aren’t getting on, she insults him, but he does nothing about it.

We see that Ben goes to Bible classes, and it is pretty obvious right from the start that his mum is having an affair with a young priest called Peter, and that Ben knows about it. In fact, at one point, he drops her off at Peter’s house, and she goes in, leaving him in the car. Ben also writes poetry about a girl named Sarah, a girl who goes to his Bible class, and is about as obsessed with God as his mother. There is a very funny scene where Ben reads her a poem he wrote, and it sounds ok up until he mentions the word ‘breast’, she tells him that he’s weird and runs away.

It is fairly obvious at this point that Ben is very unhappy with his life. His mum, although she clearly dotes on him, telling him how proud she is of him, is controlling, and making him hide her affair from his dad, who he feels awkward around anyway. I feel it’s important at this point to say that Ben, as a character, is about as far from Ron as you can get. He is shy, unhappy, and very docile.

Ben looks in a newspaper called ‘Hello Jesus’ and goes for an interview to the house of a retired actress, Evie Walton. When he meets her, she is in her back garden, swearing like crazy because she is having trouble with her flowers. Se tells him that she advertised in ‘Hello Jesus’ because she wanted a Christian Boy who wouldn’t sexually assault her. She also tells him that she charges 6 pound an hour, a pound more than McDonalds, and then tells him he should be ashamed of himself for wanting to work in McDonalds. All through this, poor Ben has never even said a word about McDonalds, or anything else, and he is completely shell shocked. Evie seems pretty happy with him, and hires him on the spot.

We learn pretty quickly that Evie is a bit eccentric. There is one brilliant scene where she and Ben get on a bus. As soon as they sit down, Evie remarks loudly that the man in front of them needs a good wash. She then accuses Ben of being gay. He tries to tell her he’s not, but she pretends not to hear him until he shouts “I’m not gay!” and the entire bus looks at them. She then remarks: (And I loved this bit)
“He’s not gay, apparently.”

They then go into a camping shop, because Evie has always been fascinated with camping. They spend the entire afternoon messing around with camping equipment. They are in a tent, and they have a nice conversation, in which Evie tells Ben that his accent sounds slightly cockney, and asks him what he is. Ben remarks that he doesn’t know who he is. She starts to recite Shakespeare, and Ben is fascinated, but then there little moment is interrupted by the salesman. Evie then tells him that everything is too expensive, and they leave. Once they are out of the shop, Evie shows Ben something she stole from the shop.

There are two scenes, and I can’t honestly remember if they came before, or after the bus scene. Ben is cleaning one of the rooms, and he comes across a picture of a younger Evie holding a baby. She catches him looking at it, and she blows up, screams at him, and gets very upset. Ben defends himself a bit, but we learn that Evie isn’t as happy as she makes out. There’s also another bit, where she collapses, drunk, and very upset. And Ben takes care of her. She tells him to f*** off, but before he leaves, she grabs his hand and begs him to stay.

Another brilliant scene is when Evie is in her garden, and thanks Ben for finding her Shakespeare plays. She starts to recite from them, and asks Ben to take part in some scenes. He is very shy about it at first, and reads in a monotone, but you see that after a while, he is a complete natural, and they spend the day acting out scenes, Ben at one point is, running after her wielding a fake sword, and also pretends to choke her to death, enjoying it immensely. Therefore, he discovers a love of Shakespeare. He tells her he writes poetry, but won’t read her any.

Evie asks Ben to go camping with her, and he wants to, but when he asks his mum, she refuses point blank, even though his dad wants to let him go. She won’t let him go because she needs him there. He has Bible meetings, and driving lessons to do, and he is also playing a Eucalyptus tree in the religious play that his mum is putting on.

He tells Evie that he can’t go, and she isn’t perturbed. Instead she suggests that they go for a drive. She asks him if he can drive, and he tells her that he hasn’t passed his test yet.

The next shot in the movie is of Ben’s face, terrified, driving the car through the countryside, while Evie sits beside him, talking about greenery. They arrive at a campsite, and Ben puts up a tent for her, but then gets anxious, and begs her to let him pack up and leave. She doesn’t want to move however, so Ben decides to pack away the things anyway. You see that Ben is slowly, very slowly learning to stand up for himself just a little bit. When he starts to pack up, Evie asks for the key, and swallows it. I love the dialogue that comes next (bear in mind that Ben has never been angry up until this point).

Ben: Oh my god, you swallowed the key.
Evie: Oh, so the boy does swear.
Ben: You swallowed the f***ing key!

Evie reassures him that they will have the key by morning. (“I’m as regular as clockwork”) but Ben is still anxious. Later on Evie offers him wine, but he won’t take it. She asks him what age he is, and he tells her he is 17 and a half. She wheedles him into it (“You can tell God I forced you”) and says that she’ll only offer him one glass.

The scene cuts to later on, with Ben and Evie lying on the car bonnet. Ben is clearly tipsy, and is reciting a poem he wrote in many different voices, which had the entire audience laughing like crazy. Especially at the end of the poem, when he points up at the sky, opens his eyes wide, and in a deep voice, says:

“God. Is. Good”

He then talks about Sarah for a while, telling Evie that he’s not sure how she feels about him. He then rings his mum, telling her the situation, but she freaks out and accuses Evie of giving him drugs. She panics for a while, but then gets rather angry with Ben, and the conversation ends rather abruptly.

The next morning, Ben demands the key, and Evie gives it to him, but then informs him that he has to take her to Edinburgh. She has been asked to recite poetry at the Edinburgh festival, and has to leave right away. For those of you who don’t know, London is at the bottom of Great Britain, and Edinburgh is at the very top. Ben is furious, and insists on driving home. They have an argument in the car, which ends when Evie demands him to stop and runs out of the car, clutching her chest and wheezing. Ben rushes out after her, concerned. She then tells him that she has breast cancer and that she may die at any time. Ben is very upset, drags her back to the car, and takes her up to Edinburgh.

When they arrive there, they go to a hotel, and Evie is being shown around the hotel by Bryony, one of the women who work there (by the way, the actress who plays Bryony is 27), who tells Evie that she is a big fan of a show Evie did in the eighties, a show that Evie confessed to Ben at an earlier stage in the movie that she hated, and called it degrading. It is obvious that Evie doesn’t like Bryony. Ben comes in, struggling with the bags, and Bryony leaves them alone.

Up in the room, Evie confesses to Ben that she is worried about the poetry reading, and that she doesn’t think she can do it. Ben reassures her, and she tells him that the only way she can do it is if Ben himself is there. She reminds him that the reading is at 11am the next day, and he promises to be there. It is obvious that Evie relies on Ben now.

Ben goes down stairs, and is cornered by Bryony, who tries to talk to him, but because he is so awkward around women, he won’t answer her. When she asks him to go for a drink with her, he says:

“I have to be in bed.”

which she finds funny because it’s only 8.30pm. She brings Ben to a salsa club. After a while he relaxes and starts to dance with her, and enjoy it.

The scene cuts to her bringing him back to her flat. She gives him wine and asks him if it’s his first time. He lies and says no. She then asks him what age he is, and he says he is 18 and a half. Then they kiss. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the kiss, so for anyone who wants details about it, I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I couldn’t watch the love of my life kissing someone, so I just focused on the window behind them. Then she led him over to her bed and they kissed more.

The next morning in the hotel, Evie is being told that Ben isn’t in his room. She goes mad and demands to be let into his room, but when the manager refuses, she lets off the fire alarm, and tells him to inform Ben that she will be waiting for him in the bar downstairs.

Bryony makes Ben tea, and he suddenly realizes that it’s 11.30. He scrambles around, trying to get dressed.

Right, I have to do this justice. I will go into detail. When he is pulling his boxers up, I am sorry to inform you all, the shot is from the back and he has a blanket wrapped around himself anyway. Then the camera is in front of him as he pulls his jeans up. And then he puts on his t-shirt. I would like to tell you all, that Rupert Grint has an amazingly sexy upper body. Firstly, I was mesmerized by his lovely strong arms for the whole movie, secondly, he has a lovely flat stomach, thirdly, he is not over muscled in the manner of a horrible body builder, but well defined, and lastly, he has the most unbelievably perfect back known to mankind. Yes, ladies, Rupert Grint has the body of a god, it is official.

Anyway, Bryony keeps asking him to stay, and tells him that he shouldn’t be running around for a has been like Evie. In fact, everything Bryony has said about Evie so far has been pretty nasty. Ben gets angry, and shouts at her, telling her that if you make a promise to someone, you shouldn’t break it. He is about to leave, and then becomes apologetic, and says:

“Thank you for having me.”

A line that made everyone laugh.

He runs through Edinburgh. Evie is at the reading, very nervous and upset. She tries to recite a few poems, but she ends up breaking down, saying that she needs Ben. He eventually runs in, walks right up to her and gently escorts her out.

He’s driving her home, and she’s asleep, and when she wakes up, he tells her that he got her another reading at Cheltenham. She asks him how he did that, and he tells her that he rang up and explained that she was dying. Evie gets angry, demanding that he brings her home, but he refuses. He keeps insisting that she has to go out on a high. They are arguing a lot, and it builds up until Evie screams at him that she made up her illness, and storms out of the car. I was expecting Ben to get angry, but instead he jumped out of the car and shouts:

“I forgive you!”

He follows her on foot, and they have another little argument. I’m unsure about the order of things here, but during the scenes in the car and out of it, Evie is upset that he wasn’t there the one time she needed him, Ben accuses her of being a liar, and they have an argument about God, and she tells him to drop the goody-goody act. Eventually she walks off in a huff, and leaves him standing on the road. Later he pulls up in the car and she gets in. She asks him to take her home, and he agrees.

They stop at a beautiful lake beside a mountain, and they are both entranced by the scenery. Ben asks her who the baby in the photo was, and she tells him it was her son Tom, who died of Leukemia when he was two. She talks about Tom for a while, and then she holds Ben’s hand while they stand and watch a skylark.

When Ben gets home, he finds his mother, and Mr. Something, who is dressed in her nightdress, standing at the door. His mother gets angry with him, and tells him that he can’t work for Evie any more. He rings Evie, and tells her he won’t be seeing her for a while. Life pretty much goes back to normal for Ben, and at one point, Evie calls at his house, only to be met by his other, who tells Evie that Ben doesn’t want anything to do with her anymore. Evie is obviously very upset, but she walks away.

It cumulates at the play Laura has put on. Laura happens to make a remark about Evie’s looks, and Ben reminds his mother that she hasn’t even seen Evie before. He then realizes what his mother must have done. He is dressed as a tree, and obviously very upset, and halfway through it, he just walks off the stage. He cycles to Evie’s house, and shouts through the letterbox, telling her that his mum was lying, that she’s his best friend and that he needs her. Evie at this point is drunk again, lying on the couch. She hears him however, and gets up to go after him. Ben has already given up and cycled back. He goes back on the stage, and his mum, who is narrating, is clearly relieved. During the most dramatic part of the play, Evie bursts in, demanding that Ben leave with her. Ben is clearly delighted, and Evie gets up and makes a dramatic speech that gets the whole crowd going. She then makes them all start swaying and dancing, and brings Ben out of the auditorium. Laura follows him.

When they are outside, Laura shouts at Evie, and demands her son back. Ben loses it with his mother, accusing her of being a hypocrite, preaching about god when she’s been having an affair with someone else. Before he can go any further, Mr. Something, fully dressed as a woman, drives Laura’s car straight at her and runs her over.

Obviously a few week have past, and Ben is going to see his mother in hospital. She has survived, and she is happy to see him. She holds his hand and talks to him, but it’s obvious that he doesn’t really care what she thinks now. On the way out of the hospital, he meets Sarah (remember, his crush) who tells him that she knows about his mother and Peter’s affair. She launches into a speech about how he should have faith in God, and God’s love, to which he replies, with what I thought was the best line in the movie.

“F*** off, Sarah.”

There is a scene in his garden. Ben is putting up a tent, and his dad comes out. After a bit of meaningless conversation, in which we learn that Laura has now moved to live with Peter, Ben gets angry, and shouts at his dad for never standing up to his mother, and says that his dad should have demanded a divorce, after the was she treated him. His dad surprises him by telling him that it was he who asked for a divorce. He tells Ben that he loves him, and Ben replies that he loves him too. His dad then says: “Good” and becomes very awkward, helping him put up the tent. Ben tells his dad that he wants to live outside in the tent for a while.

After that, he goes to visit Evie, who is visibly much less depressed than before. He tells her that he is living on his own in the garden, that he got a job in a bookstore, and that he wants to go to college and study English. She says some nice things about how lovely Ben is, and the film ends with Ben walking over a hill in Hempstead.

Ok, that was the breakdown, and now the review.

I loved this movie. It is one of those rare little gems that pop up now and then, that affect you on a personal level. It quite simply has a lot of heart. By the time you’re halfway through the film, you really care about Ben and Evie, which, in my opinion, is rare in movies nowadays. This film wasn’t made to make money, or attract an audience, it was made to tell a story, and it tells it beautifully with just the right amount of comedy and drama. It made me think about my own life.

The acting, well, I think it was spot on. I know you all want to know about Rupert, so I’ll skim over the rest of them for a while. Laura Linney was, as always, absolutely flawless, and convincing. She was a really horrible character, but I felt the tiniest bit of pity for her a t the end. Julie Walters was fabulous as always, wonderfully crazy and just as wonderfully depressed. You really, really, love her character, at least I did, and her on screen chemistry with Rupert was spot on.

And as for Rupert, I know that a certain bloke called Ciaran from Mugglenet said that Rupert wasn’t great at the start, but this is complete b****x, I’m afraid.

I went into the cinema expecting to see a little bit of Ron, at least, and instead saw a character who was his polar opposite. Even his facial expressions were totally un-Ron.

He was very awkward at the beginning, and very uptight, which was great, because you could see his character loosening up as the movie progressed. He was at his best during the later scenes, particularly when he was yelling at his mother, in the garden with his dad, and anytime he was with Evie. He conveyed emotion brilliantly, and I really, really felt for him, and I loved his character. This is hard to explain, but I didn’t see Rupert on the screen, like I do when I watch Harry Potter, I saw Ben. He was totally and utterly convincing. I think that doing this movie was the best thing Rupert could do for his career, because, if nothing else, he’s proved that he is a damm good actor.

And what a body he has!

I would give this movie a 9/10. I’m only taking a point off because some biased people will say I only gave it a 10/10 because Rupert was in it, which believe me, is not true. I have been an avid movie lover for many years, and my love for Rupert has never stopped me from being critical of the films he has so far been in, such as the Prisoner of Azkaban, which I thought was crap. And since I don’t care what anyone thinks, to hell with it, scratch that, I give this film 10/10.

As a final word, I would just like to say: If you don’t love this movie, you don’t have a heart… And I don’t care how unprofessional that sounds…

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