A 2021 Film Journey: Day 12

Fun aside, if you’ve been routinely following my posts these two weeks you may have noticed a slight change today. I took the plunge and bought the domain, so as of today there’s no longer a .wordpress as part of the URL. Anyway, after yesterday’s much needed viewing diversion, I’m back to watching a 2020 film, but after today I’m artificially cutting it off. Tomorrow I’ll start working on my year end list with the hopes of getting it published by week’s end.

Driveways (2020, Dir. Andrew Ahn)

Film Review: Driveways (NZIFF 2020) | The 13th Floor

The last film I decided to watch before finalizing my list was one that wasn’t even on my radar 2 days ago, but critic who’s opinion I respect a lot, Marya Gates, listed it as her favorite film of the year so I had to check it out. I’m really glad that I watched this movie. It’s a small and quite film that I likely would have never known about had it not been for this endorsement. Small personal pieces like this are too often forgotten if an A24 or Annapurna or the like don’t pick it up. While it won’t top my year end list, it will be in definite contention to make the list.

The film itself is slight yet personal. Kathy (Hong Chau) is a single mother. She and her son Cody (Lucas Jaye) are traveling to clean out Kathy’s deceased, hoarder sister’s house. While there, the pair befriend the Korean War vet Del (Brian Dennehy) who lives next door. And that’s what I mean when I say slight. Director Andrew Ahn understands that the film doesn’t need to be aggressively packed with drama. Merely reflecting life is more than enough.

The mother son dynamic between the two leads is what allows the film to work as beautifully as it does. Initially, the relationship between the two is coded in a somewhat negative light. He is on a tablet constantly while she works with her headphones on (she’s a medical transcriptionist so they are required by her work). It quickly becomes clear that their actual relationship is anything but contentious; they are just stuck in a rough situation. The two actors have wonderful chemistry together perfectly playing the mother/son combo who are also best friends. Their time shared on screen is so precise that it allows the otherwise minor film to reach for greatness.

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