Wendy is left to pick up the pieces and realizes that she must learn to drive in order to visit her daughter at college in Vermont. Prior there was need to drive because that was something her husband always did for her and somewhere in her mind she still believes her husband will eventually come back.
Her driving instructor is Darwan (Ben Kingsley), a highly educated Sikh who, in addition to teaching others how to drive, makes a living from driving a cab. He works hard and tries his best to provide a good example and place to live for his nephew. Darwan works 2 jobs yet his nephew has trouble keeping one.
Darwan tells Wendy that she must put focus her energy into being aware of her surroundings while she is in control of a vehicle. He encourages her that it doesn’t matter what is going on in her life, her mind must not wander when she is driving. This is key advice.
Learning to Drive touches on human connections supporting race, age, time and religion, and an unexpected friendship forms between Darwan and Wendy. Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley have wonderful chemistry onscreen and it is easy to believe that they have formed a valuable friendship. Although the film revolves around some realistic situations that some may face in life , it’s also nice to have a little sense of humour through it all.
Learning to Drive is based on an autobiographical story by Katha Pollitt that was published in the New Yorker and in the hands of Spanish director Isabel Coxet it has become a warm comedy about mid-life crisis management.
Coixet brings us a film about gaining independence and the hardships and challenges involved in achieving it. She shows us that even if it is a film that touches on some tough issues, there can be hope for Wendy and it’s something the viewer can take away from the film.