Learning to Drive

COMIC DRAMA, 1hr 45min

STARRING: Patricia Clarkson, Ben Kingsley

Roads scholars: Kingsley and Clarkson

Like waiters or bartenders, cabbies bear silent witness to the outer limits of human behaviour. So when impassive Sikh driver Darwan Singh Tur (Kingsley) has a front-row seat at the volcanic meltdown of stressy Manhattan book reviewer Wendy Shields’s (Patricia Clarkson) 21-year marriage to her straying husband Ted (Jake Weber), it’s just another workday on the New York City streets. Since Darwan is also a driving instructor and Wendy no longer has a better half to ferry her around, she enlists him to teach her. Hence the metaphorical title of director Isabel Coixet’s mild treatment of boundaries redefined.


Darwan lays down the road laws with the calm certainty of experience, although, like Wendy’s, his love-life, with its rocky arranged marriage (to Sarita Choudhury as Jasleen) is anything but serene. Clarkson and Kingsley are spontaneously at ease as the lines blur between teacher and student and Darwan and Wendy’s slow-blooming affinity becomes an unexpected refuge. In plotting courses through their entirely different lives, the bond neither of them saw coming is a rosy barometer of faith in the blessings of new beginnings.