A lulling, poignant soundtrack follows a mother and son on a roadtrip, neither speaking as the night beats them to their location. Kathy (Hong Chau) drives silently, while Cody (Lucas Jaye) plays games on his tablet in the passenger's seat. When they finally reach their destination - Kathy's sister's house - we realize why their trip has been so solemn: Kathy's estranged, reclusive sister has died, and they are to clean out the home (horrifyingly stocked with hoarded items) to put it up for sale. So begins director Andrew Ahn's newest feature, DRIVEWAYS.
Cody, whose shy, reserved nature has been an obstacle in making friends, nevertheless stumbles upon an unexpected ally in this new and unfamiliar place: the next door neighbor, Del (Brian Dennehy), a veteran retiree whose main pastime is going to the VFW to play bingo with the boys. As Cody, anxious and sensitive to loud noise, goes through the struggle of making friends his own age in the neighborhood, Del reveals the more graduated struggle of holding onto the friends and family he has as he ages. Kathy, in the meantime, struggles to go through her late sister's entire belongings by herself, trying not to put any extra weight on her son or the surrounding neighbors.
The film unwinds slowly, allowing the relationships to breathe and the characters to really come into focus in their own quiet ways. The script, written by Hannah Boz and Paul Thureen, is beautifully laid out, and Ahn deftly brings it to life. Jaye is an adorable and perfect choice for the protagonist, bringing a lot of emotion to the screen with limited dialogue and subtle reactions, and Chau and Dennehy add a depth to the world that many will be able to connect with.
DRIVEWAYS is gorgeous and cuts straight to the heart. Check the film out on MC On Demand! It is well worth the watch.