Movie Releases – Learning To Drive & The Second Mother

Learning to Drive and The Second Mother are two films that look at older women in a moment of massive change in their lives.  One accomplishes creating something incredibly special and moving while the other lacks the necessary complete ending to truly shine.  Click through to find out which film is which and for my full reviews of both films.

Learning to Drive is a wonderful showcase of two comfortable actors working nicely off of each other.  Patricia Clarkson (Wendy) battles the horrors of impending divorce with her asshole ex-husband Ted (Jake Weber shines as the total prick of an ex!), while Darwin (Ben Kingsley) is battling the horrors of potential deportation as an illegal alien / cab driver.  Patricia and Ben are wonderfully paired, but the story is really two separate tails that are in correctly mashed together and don't shine so well as a unit.  Spanish Director Isabel Coixet and Cinematographer Manel Ruiz do a great job in creating a comforting and enjoyable environment for Sarah Kernochan's heartfelt but slightly misplaced script.  The ideas in the story are all good concepts that allow the actors to explore fun characters, especially Ben Kingsley's conflicted and religious Darwin.  A solid performance by Sarita Choudhury is a real standout as the perfect "fish-out-of-water" figure.  But overall the cheesy friendly ending takes away a lot of the bite the film could have had.  Now the foul-mouthed opening to the movie is a great way to enter into a script, the only scenes that equal that passion are two funny sexual moments.  Wendy's best friend gives an amazing bit of advice about hating her cheating husband and the friend's choice word play on what a BlowJob really is, makes for one of the wittiest lines of the whole film.  But the wonderfully paced sex scene with Wendy and a handsome older gentleman, who's mastered his Sting-like tantric sex, is one of the year's funniest.  Enough is a enough summed up in a give up moment for the ages.  Sarah's script has the humorous moments down but overall the short ending really takes away from all the time invested.  A good film but overall lacking in it's final through moment.

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Brazilian legend Regina Case and newcomer Camila Mardilla are utterly captivating in The Second Mother. Similarly to Learning to Drive a film directed and written by women, in this case the talented Anna Muylaert (Writer/Director) has given us a whirlwind showcase for her two leads.  Regina plays Val a lifelong nanny to a rich Brazilian family who's son Fabinho is her heart and soul.

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But her now grown-up daughter Jessica returns after a decade of living away from her mother. The two fiery women not only look at the world differently, but their impact on the rich family has amazing and even drastic consequences.  Overall the lingering cinematography that allows for moments of real introspection, like a spying Val on the family or Jessica's odd interaction with the "man of the house", is perfectly captured.  This film about class differences pushes past the cliches of poor vs rich and allows for an eye-opening happy ending.  A daughter and mother who's black and white yin-yang fight ultimately allows the film to showcase the beauty behind the massive contrast.  There are even wonderful visual motifs and metaphors shown in the pool (the opening image) and a modern tea set.  Overall, Brazil's Oscar 2016 choice shined at last year's Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland and took home awards at this year's Sundance and Berlin festivals.  A powerhouse film that tackles many hard issues in life, but still finds a magical way to bring happiness in the face of total life changing moments.  Regina and Camila are an amazing duo to check out.  Help support these strong females that don't need a man to fulfill their lives and futures.  Don't miss out on the Second Mother.  By the way the title alone will make you look at life differently after realizing the many different usages it has in the film.  There isn't just one or two but numerous ways to take that title in light of the film's arcs. 

For more information on Learning To Drive please go, here.

And for more info on The Second Mother please go, here.

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