The beauty and necessity of humanity are expertly showcased in Andrew Ahn’s DRIVEWAYS. The film follows the story of Kathy, who travels to her sister’s house to clear it out after her death. With money struggles and the discovery that her sister was a hoarder, the task becomes massive, and DRIVEWAYS shows the struggle and the internal discoveries made along the way. With an incredible array of performances and subtly excellent screenplay, the film is moving and keeps the viewer engaged in the characters’ lives throughout its playtime.
As mentioned, the film reveals the importance of humanity in its characters and shows the ability of companionship to alter lives. The first notable moment of this is when Del (Brian Dennehy), a widowed veteran, shares his electricity with Kathy (Hong Chau) and her son Cody (Lucas Jaye), who has travelled with Kathy to clean out the house. He knew they were struggling, and he went out of his way to help them. A friendship begins between them, which turns into a subtle dependency stemming from the sadness they all have in them when they are interacting. These moments are often small but develop a strong connection to the characters on screen.
The acting of all three leads in this film is impeccable. They manage to create characters with depth, even with a sparse script. They become these people and make their experiences believable. Cody, played by Lucas Jaye, is a revelation. An example of talent behind such a young performance would be Cody’s reaction to a revelation related to a key character. The viewer can see the physical pain this causes Cody without him saying a word, and the viewer – in turn – becomes emotional for him. The performances are a significant reason this film is so beautiful to watch.
An interesting element added to the film by Ahn is the connection to objects: April, Kathy’s deceased sister, was a hoarder; Cody and his video game; Del and his home. These aspects become essential to the plot in different ways, and all appear to be a form of comfort for the associated character. Cody uses his video game to avoid the outside world, Del’s home is his way of feeling his wife is still with him, and April’s hoarding is theorised to have been her comfort in her lonely world. They could have become insignificant elements, but the actors’ commitment to their character keep these objects very much in the forefront – a tiny component but one that continually adds layers to the characters and their story.
DRIVEWAYS is an exquisite film, Andrew Ahn’s ability to create depth in subtlety is remarkable, and the actors’ faultless performances brought this film to new heights. Throughout, it is poignant, funny and heartwarming.