27 February 2012

Driving Miss Daisy (starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman)

This is another of those films which Amazon must have recommended to me - possibly because of the actors in it - and which I was given by one of my relatives. It's sat on our unwatched-DVD-shelf for some time, but we decided to see it with a friend a couple of evenings ago. I don't usually watch this many films in a month, but the blurb on the back suggested that this would be a gentle and undemanding story.

'Driving Miss Daisy' proved to be exactly that. We first meet Miss Daisy (Jessica Tandy), an elderly Jewish widow, when she has a little prang with her car. She wants to keep her independence, but cannot get car insurance. Her son (Dan Aykroyd) tries in vain to reason with her, then goes ahead and employs an African-American chauffeur called Hoke (Morgan Freeman) for her.

The film is set initially in the 1940s, in the American South. While Miss Daisy insists that she is not prejudiced, there's an overt difference between her and her black cook Idella (Esther Rolle), and she really does not want a chauffeur of any kind. She reluctantly agrees to let him drive her car, but the relationship is often rather strained at first.

Jessica Tandy is superb in the title role, which she filmed when she was 80 according to the brief ‘making of’ extra. During the course of the movie she starts as a sprightly woman of around 70 and eventually becomes very frail, approaching 90. She is entirely believable as both. Freeman, too, is excellent as Hoke, surprisingly confident and determined, while aware all the time of his 'place'.

There's not much action, or indeed plot. However, this is a wonderful, character-driven gentle film that was engrossing. There were a few humorous moments too, and some poignancy when it became clear (though never fully spelled out) that both the main characters were sometimes the subjecs of prejudice.

My one problem with this film was that the Southern accents were so strong that I could not understand a lot of the dialogue, particularly that spoken by Hoke. As it turned out, it didn’t matter too much, but was frustrating at first; so much so that we even wondered if we could switch on sub-titles, but they were not available with the DVD.

Definitely recommended.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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