Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Tribeca with Abe: Driveways

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which ran April 24th – May 5th.

Directed by Andrew Ahn
Tribeca Critics’ Week

Children perceive the world differently than adults do, but that doesn’t mean that the complexities of grown-up concepts are lost on them. Many parents try to shelter their children from the realities of divorce, disease, death, and so many other negative things, which can help to shield them during formative times but may also leave them unprepared for when they need to deal with similar events later in their lives. Circumstances may not always allow adults to keep things from those they seek to protect, which can result in precocious experiences well beyond a child’s normal maturity level.

Kathy (Hong Chau) arrives in a small town she doesn’t know to clean out the home of her recently deceased sister, who she quickly discovers was a hoarder. With her is her young son Cody (Lucas Jaye), who doesn’t say much but develops an immediate affinity for the man who lives next door, Del (Brian Dennehy), a Korean war veteran who splits his time between sitting on the porch and playing bingo with his friends. As Kathy struggles to connect with a departed relative she realizes she didn’t know, she begins to see the way that Cody has taken to Del in a way that transcends the tremendous age difference between them.

This is a sweet drama about an unlikely friendship. Cody socializes minimally with kids from the neighborhood and displays a limited willingness to get to know them better. He is drawn instead to a man who, decades older than he is, selectively chooses how he wants to spend his time, well aware that he is getting older and less physically capable but not eager to throw in the towel just yet. It’s endearing to see how they develop a kinship based on shared interests at the opposite ends of their lives, content simply in each other’s company. It’s also nice to see Kathy find some comfort in her son making a friend when she can’t be there entirely for him in the way she wants to be.

Chau, who stole all her scenes in “Downsizing” and also appears in a less enthusiastic role in another Tribeca entry from this year, “American Woman,” delivers a heartfelt turn that indicates a woman who, through no fault of her own, has lost agency over her own life, with both her late sister and her young son demanding all of her attention. Dennehy is sentimental and great, and it’s particularly wonderful to watch him opposite the extremely talented Jaye, making his live-action feature film debut with this standout part. This cast augments an otherwise perfectly ordinary film, making it a lovely and heartwarming story.


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