Friday, July 17, 2020




Brian Dennehy’s final film, Driveways, is a case study in quiet resolution. As Del, a widowed Korean War veteran consumed in his own deluge of self-pity and grief, he conveys a depth of emotion without speaking a word. Director Andrew Ahn makes full use Dennehy’s towering talents to contrast his character against those of his new next door neighbors, a Korean American single mom, Kathy (Hong Chau of HBO’s “Watchmen”) and her disarmingly charming 8 year old son Cody (Lucas Jaye). 

Driveways is available to stream or download on iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Cable On-Demand, and Google Play.

The story of Driveways develops slowly, but powerfully. Del sits stoically on his front porch, licking his lingering emotional wounds in silence, while Cathy and Cody confront the whirlwind of confusion and uncertainty that is their current state of affairs. Kathy is charged with clearing out and selling the house of her recently deceased older sister Alice.  The gravity of the situation is further weighed by the shocking disarray of the house; a stunning reflection of her late sister’s emotional decay. Alice was a hoarder who lived in isolation. The discovery of her dead cat only served to punctuate the desperate state of affairs. With no place else to go, Kathy and Cody are reduced to sleeping on the deck. The curious Cody makes his way to Del’s front porch and each, in their halting ways, come out of their separate protective cocoon’s of personal pain and loss, and work their way into each other’s hearts.

“Whose Vera?, Cody asks innocently, spying a discarded piece of old mail on Del’s porch. She is Del’s deceased wife, and so begins the unraveling of layers of protective emotional gauze covering a series of deep and unhealed wounds in both.

Driveways, in its quiet way, speak volumes in this age of crisis and isolation. It is the perfect bromide to this troubled time and worthy of more than a single viewing. Besides the subject of social and emotional isolation, it also tackles the issues of aging, such as the onslaught of dimension and the perils of economic displacement along the way. These are issues that are playing out with greater resonance with each passing day.

Driveways is also a shining example of a simple story well told. Director Ahn is masterful at allowing his characters to speak with resounding authority in their quietest moments. The fact that Dennehy’s character is a Korean War veteran and that Kathy and Cody are Korean Americans adds further subtext in these racially charged times. It is also a much-needed bromide of human bonding in a time of prolonged social isolation due to the pandemic.

Driveways has been streaming for a couple of months on VOD. I first viewed the film just prior to its premiere on May 7. It has taken on even greater meaning a second time around.

No comments:

Post a Comment