DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS – A Review by Jenn Rohm

DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS – A Review by Jenn Rohm

The Coen Brothers have made many films together.  Certain expectations come to mind when it is known a film is their product.  In 2019 Ethan needed a break.  Working from a script he co-wrote with his wife, Tricia Cooke, Drive-Away Dolls gives fans hope that he has found the fun in movie making again.

In an interview with the couple by Chelsey Sanchez for Harpers Bazaar, Cooke said, “Over the last 20 years, we’ve been writing this lesbian B-movie trilogy.  Not really a trilogy, but the idea was to write three queer B movies that I always thought would just kind of sit in a drawer and our kids would look at one day when they were old and get some laughs.  And now we’ve made one of them.”  Coen added “We have another one written.  The problem with writing two is then you’re obliged to do a third because nobody does two.  You gotta do a trilogy.  I don’t even know the word for two corresponding to a trilogy.”  This information did impact my rating and I hope it helps others enjoy the film more.  The cinematography stays true to being a campy, the late 90s, B, road trip movie. 

The synopsis of the film from Focus Features states:

The film follows Jamie, an uninhibited free spirit bemoaning yet another breakup with a girlfriend, and her demure friend Marian who desperately needs to loosen up. In search of a fresh start, the two embark on an impromptu road trip to Tallahassee, but things quickly go awry when they cross paths with a group of inept criminals along the way.

There is one piece to the film that pulled me out of the movie.  It is a series of art and music moments that by the second or third I started to have thoughts of what they were supposed to be clueing the audience into.  By the final one, my thoughts were confirmed.  At the end of the movie, I understood why they were there.  I recognize this is a “me” issue that the switch to a psychedelic vibe and then back to how most of the film was made took away from the experience.

The performances in the film are the driving force.  While some things were more stereotypical other things helped to balance out their personalities.  The wardrobe for Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and her sex drive is more what I have witnessed in TV, film, and books for the portrayal of a lesbian as opposed to real-life experience.  This was balanced out by her ability to own up to situations she should have handled differently.  With Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) her vocabulary choice such as the use of ‘engagement’ as opposed to saying she already has plans fed into ethnic stereotyping.  While her actions/lack of actions to the break-up of her last relationship are more universal.  Sukie (Beanie Feldstein) is a police officer who instills fear in others and takes no prisoners, putting enough comedy behind the role prevented it from falling into the female in a male-dominated job proving her worth we see so often.      

This was an enjoyable film and I look forward to the possible next two being made.

 

Director: Ethan Coen    

Written By: Ethan Coen, Tricia Cooke

Cast: Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Beanie Feldstein, Pedro Pascal, Colman Domingo, Bill Camp, Matt Damon

MPAA Rating: R for crude sexual content, full nudity, language, and some violent content.

Genres: Action, Comedy, Thriller

Selig Rating: 3.8 stars

Runtime: 1h 23m

Release Date: February 23, 2024

Trailer: Drive-Away Dolls official trailer

Website: Drive-Away Dolls website

 

The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.

4 Stars – Good movie/show

3 Stars – OK movie/show

2 Stars – Well there was nothing else…

1 Star – Total waste of time.

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