Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
The SWITCHCast team reunites for a special episode to celebrate this year's Oscars! Click here to listen now.x
review, Driveways, Driveways, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Hong Chau, Lucas Jaye, Brian Dennehy, Christine Ebersole, Jerry Adler, Robyn Payne, Jack Caleb, Jeter Rivera, Sophia Distefano, Andrew Ahn, Drama, Family film rating




By Jake Watt
12th August 2020

Director Andrew Ahn's debut feature, 'Spa Night', was a delicate story about a gay teenage Los Angeleno living in Koreatown and looking around for role models in the men who cruise the bathhouse he works at. Working with the same deliberate, character-oriented approach that proved so rewarding with his last outing, the heartfelt 'Driveways' follows a small boy whose father is absent from his life and an elderly man who has estranged himself from his remaining family. Both are looking for simple friendship. One finds something new to live for, the other discovers a community he can belong to, and they both gain a little confidence. By the end of this film, gentle moviegoer, you definitely will have cried.

We first meet lonely eight-year-old Cody (Lucas Jaye) as his single mum Kathy (Hong Chau, 'Downsizing', 'American Woman') is driving from their Wisconsin home to a small town in Upstate New York, where she must settle the affairs of her late sister.

What they find is a disaster zone of broken furniture, piles of newspapers, and a dead cat in the bathtub: the sister, April, was a pathological hoarder who shut herself off from the outside world. It will take months to clean the place out and get it ready to be put on the market. The house is uninhabitable, but it's summer, so the mother and son decide to camp out on the front porch.


Observing the process from his own porch next door is Del (the late Brian Dennehy, 'Tag', 'Knight of Cups'), an elderly Korean War veteran and octogenarian widower with a distant relationship to his daughter.

Shockingly, Del is not a racist. Neither are his bingo buddies down at his local VFW. One in particular, Rodger (a small but great turn by Jerry Adler, 'A Most Violent Year'), is beginning to show signs of dementia but is prone to quoting 'Thanatopsis' by William Cullen Bryant rather than spewing dated epithets. Even more surprisingly, nobody thinks these new Asians are invading the neighbourhood. This isn't Clint Eastwood's 'Gran Torino', which came uncomfortably close to excusing an old man's intolerance as a generational quirk. There is a sense that Hanna Bos and Paul Thureen, the writers of 'Driveways', are just regular people who want to tell a story that isn't dripping in cynicism. The end result is a tender, thoughtful study of emotions that reminded me slightly of Victor Nuñez's 'Ulee's Gold' from 1997, a film with which it shares a few thematic concerns.

Cody is a friendly and thoughtful kid, but also introverted and prone to nausea if he becomes overstimulated. There's no one in the town who really connects to him... until he and Del become best buds.

The rest of the neighbours are nice, too - including the snoopy Linda (Christine Ebersole, 'The Wolf Of Wall Street'), her wrestling-obsessed grandchildren, and Miguel and Ana, a pair of friendly kids who introduce Cody to Japanese manga. For at least half the length of the film, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and for someone to snarl at these outsiders. Then it dawned on me: for all the broadly drawn characters and well-worn story tropes at work - most prominently a kid teaching an old man to open his heart - there was no ugliness to erode. The greatest gift that Ahn provides filmgoers is his willingness to buck the trends of contemporary filmmaking and, my God, a movie with no villains is such a breath of fresh air in 2020.

Gravitating to human truths and respecting the reality of experience, Ahn achieves a rare, and rarely earned, emotional depth that rewards the moderate demands he makes on contemporary viewers' short attention spans.

Dennehy delivers an ambitious three-dimensional performance as Del - it must have taken courage on Ahn's part to entrust him with this role. But the actor responded splendidly, with work that is reserved yet revealing, withholding but ultimately very moving. Hong Chau is terrific as Kathy, a student nurse, transcriber and solo parent who realises that she never really knew her sister and, now, never will. Chau should be in more things.

These powerful performances are complimented by some simple yet lovely work by cinematographer Ki Jin Kim and an understated piano and strings score by Jay Wadley.

Gravitating seemingly by nature to human truths and respecting the reality of experience rather than the expediencies of Hollywood-style plotting, Ahn achieves a rare - and rarely earned - emotional depth that rewards the moderate demands he makes on contemporary viewers' short attention spans. Some may find the pace somewhat ambling, the style on the prosaic side and the whole atmosphere a bit too down-home, but Ahn's focus on the essentials among life's priorities - family, friendship and human connections - is ennobling and enriching without being sticky or sanctimonious. 'Driveways' explores the guards we all put up between ourselves and others as protection from the things we fear, like getting too close to someone or moving forward with our lives. With one gesture at a key moment, when Cody puts an arm around Del's slumped shoulder, Ahn's quiet film speaks volumes.

Graced by a completely unexpected performance from Brian Dennehy that is by far the best of his career, 'Driveways' is a richly realised drama that doesn't overplay its lessons on life, but contains them, warmly embracing values that another film might have simply ignored.

RUN TIME: 1h 23m
CAST: Hong Chau
Lucas Jaye
Brian Dennehy
Christine Ebersole
Jerry Adler
Robyn Payne
Jack Caleb
Jeter Rivera
Sophia Distefano
DIRECTOR: Andrew Ahn
WRITERS: Hannah Bos
Paul Thurteen
James Schamus
Nicolaas Bertelsen
Celine Rattray
Trudie Styler
SCORE: Jay Wadley
And the Academy Award goes to... - Pick this year's winners to take home your own prize!
TRENDINGWIN AND THE ACADEMY AWARD GOES TO...Pick this year's winners to take home your own prize!
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Mortal Kombat - Ready? Fight!
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
Twist - A Dickens classic set in modern-day London
TRENDINGWIN TWISTA Dickens classic set in modern-day London
River's Edge - The kids aren't alright
TRENDINGRIVER'S EDGEThe kids aren't alright
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
xXx: Return Of Xander Cage - The good, the bad and the ugly
TRENDINGxXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGEThe good, the bad and the ugly
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
The Trouble with Being Born - Controversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
TRENDINGTHE TROUBLE WITH BEING BORNControversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
Lion - A raw and powerful journey of identity
TRENDINGLIONA raw and powerful journey of identity
Words on Bathroom Walls - Normalising schizophrenia for the mainstream
TRENDINGWORDS ON BATHROOM WALLSNormalising schizophrenia for the mainstream
The Land Before Time - 30th anniversary of a breathtaking animated masterpiece
TRENDINGTHE LAND BEFORE TIME30th anniversary of a breathtaking animated masterpiece
2:22 - Mind-bending metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
TRENDING2:22Mind-bending metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
Andrey Tarkovsky. A Cinema Prayer - Remembering a true master of film
TRENDINGANDREY TARKOVSKY. A CINEMA PRAYERRemembering a true master of film
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit - A charming and poignant tale of survival
TRENDINGWHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBITA charming and poignant tale of survival
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!