Learning to Drive (film)

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Learning to Drive
Learning to Drive Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIsabel Coixet
Written bySarah Kernochan
Produced byDana Friedman
Daniel Hammond
CinematographyManel Ruiz
Edited byKeith Reamer
Thelma Schoonmaker
Music byDhani Harrison
Paul Hicks
Lavender Pictures
Core Pictures
Distributed byBroad Green Pictures
Release date
  • September 9, 2014 (2014-09-09) (TIFF)
  • August 21, 2015 (2015-08-21) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3.4 million (USA)[1]

Learning to Drive is a 2014 American comedy drama film. Directed by Isabel Coixet and written by Sarah Kernochan based on a New Yorker article by Katha Pollitt,[2] the film stars Patricia Clarkson as Wendy, a successful book critic[3] taking driving lessons with instructor Darwan (Ben Kingsley) after the breakup of her marriage to Ted (Jake Weber) forces her to become more self-sufficient. This is the second collaboration between Ben Kingsley, Patricia Clarkson, and Isabel Coixet.[4]

The film was named first-runner up for the People's Choice Award at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.[5] The film was released on August 21, 2015.[6]

Plot summary[edit]

Wendy (Patricia Clarkson) is a known book critic, who has just broken up with her husband, Ted (Jake Weber), during an argument in a bar. Her husband leaves the scene and calls a taxi that is driven by Darwan (Ben Kingsley), who is also an Indian Sikh. When Wendy suddenly jumps in the car, Darwan experiences their anger and heated exchange. The husband has enough of the accusations and sends Wendy home alone in the taxi, so Darwan also witnesses her sadness and regret.

Wendy has never needed to drive in New York, but now she needs to learn, in order to visit her daughter Tasha (Grace Gummer) who is living and working on a commune farm in Vermont. Through a series of events, Wendy becomes Darwan's driving student, developing a close friendship in the process, as he is an intellectual and was a teacher back in India.[7]

Wendy fails her license driving test on her first attempt and decides to stop trying. Tasha tells her that she has decided not to return to the farm and wants to live with her mother instead, even though it is a requirement for her college education. She also admits that she is in love with a student who was at the farm with her, and that he was going back to the college campus. Wendy tells her daughter that she must finish her farming experience and that she will figure out a way to visit her daughter.

Darwan goes through an arranged marriage to Jasleen (Sarita Choudhury), but the marriage is not going well, as they don’t seem to have any common interests. Darwan confides in Wendy that his marriage is having problems and Wendy asks him if he would ever cheat on Jasleen if she disappointed him. He replies with a definitive no and she tells him: “you are a good man.”

Wendy passes her next license driving test and Darwan helps her buy a new car. As they are saying their goodbyes, Darwan asks Wendy if they can meet in the future, but Wendy declines, telling him: "the trouble is, you’re a good man."

Later that night, Jasleen comes home from shopping to find Darwan sitting on their bed. She sits next to him having no idea what to expect, when he asks: "Jasleen, maybe I will not work at night anymore. Would you like that?" She smiles with a sense of relief and he puts his hand on her face and his head on her shoulder, the pair both looking happy for the first time since their wedding day.

The last scene shows Wendy driving out of New York in her new car, traveling alone to visit her daughter.



On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 66% based on reviews from 56 critics, with an average 6.3/10. The site's consensus states: "The story's a bit predictable, but Learning to Drive is elevated by typically strong work from stars Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley."[8] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 59 out of 100, based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[9]


  1. ^ "Learning to Drive". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  2. ^ "Patricia Clarkson as Katha Pollitt in Isabel Coixet's Learning to Drive" Archived 1 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Indiewire, 21 August 2013.
  3. ^ Tallerico, Brian (21 August 2015). "Reviews | Roger Ebert". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  4. ^ Labrecque, Jeff (13 April 2015). "Ben Kingsley on Learning to Drive and working with the female Scorsese". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  5. ^ (14 September 2014) "‘The Imitation Game’ Wins Toronto Audience Award". The Wrap. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  6. ^ McClintock, Pamela (8 April 2015). "Broad Green Sets Release Dates for First Six Films". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  7. ^ Saito, Stephen (12 September 2014). "TIFF '14 Interview: Isabel Coixet on Taking the Wheel for "Learning to Drive"". The Moveable Fest. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Learning to Drive (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Learning to Drive". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 10 March 2021.

External links[edit]