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Driveways Is So Beautiful It Hurts



Driveways(Amazon Prime)

Starring  Hong Chau, Lucas Jaye, and Brian Dennehy.

Directed by Andrew Ahn

Rating: **** ½ 

This understated  masterpiece about reaching out and  touching your neighbour’s hand  is so tender and  confident  in its modest space that  not many are  aware  of it. But  to miss this  tender deeply moving film is to  miss an opportunity to better  our lives and  our  perspective  on the human condition.

At a time when  we need  that healing touch  the  most, Driveways  comes to us  with a simplicity  of  theme  and lucidity  of  expression that I find unmatched by any recent film.The  story could just as well have been a melodramatic maelstrom  about a  lonely  sensitive studious  observant  little boy Cody(Lucas Jaye) who arrives in a soporific  town  with his  hassled but  capable mother  Kathy(Hong Chau)  to take charge of  her dead sister’s  unkempt overcrowded  home.

The  cluttered home is in contrast  to  the stark  bare  lives  led by the mother-son  pair who seem  more like friends , sharing deep silences rather than forced conversations. In fact  the amazing director Andre Ahn(have you seen  his stunning debut film Spa Night?) builds an invisible bridge  among three generations  through his three main characters : the mother, the son, and the retired quietly hurting  neighbour.

It is  within this arc  that Ahn works his  muted magic, weaving a pastiche  of  emotions buried too deep for years  to be rendered into tears. The  three principal actors are so so  so brilliant I thought they were pretending to act. Veteran Brian Dennehy who passed away  soon after shooting for this  film  is no surprise  in his brilliance. But the little  boy Lucas Jaye  so wise  and comprehending that  friends his age make him puke(literally) holds  the  film together much as  he holds his mother’s frazzled life together with his quiet composure way beyond his age.

 I don’t know where the  director found this boy. But I want to  adopt him immediately. HongChau as the  single mother  trying to give her solemn son(whom she calls  ‘Professor’)  the life he deserves, is  equally  exceptional, though she makes no effort to be  impressive.

Nothing in this tightly-wound precisely-edited film is  overdone. We as the spectators  have to reach far within ourselves to reach  the emotions  these three characters secrete. This  a  meditative melancholic    yet  uplifting film on  the human touch and how empathy   can heal while we are not even looking for comfort.

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