'Driving Lessons'

Helping out scary or crazy-looking old people as a means to come into one's own as an adult is a time-honored literary and cinematic conceit. In this case it's also semi-autobiographical, as writer-director Jeremy Brock worked for Dame Peggy Ashcroft as a lad. Rupert Grint, capably different here from his Harry Potter persona, plays Ben, the vicar's son, pressured by his understated yet overbearing mother (Laura Linney, doing valiant battle with an English accent) to get a job. Circling the first appealing ad in the newspaper, Ben finds himself housekeeper and assistant to Evie Walton (Julie Walters), a loud, mercurial former grand dame of the stage who is mainly remembered for her stint on an '80s daytime soap. Initially, she's too much of a character for Ben to handle, but you just know that by the end of the day they will Learn Important Lessons from one another. The sentiment's a bit thick sometimes, but Walters remains sharp, and is sure to inspire drag queens everywhere.

 
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