San Diego Asian Film Festival: Driveways (2019)
Cody (Lucas Jaye) is a kid like any other, eating Bugles off his fingertips as if they were pitted olives. He’s shy and a touch forlorn, particularly after being uprooted by his mother Kathy (Hong Chau) for what should have been a quick trip out of state to put his late aunt’s home on the market. How was Kathy to know that her sister was a hoarder? The two had been on the outs for years. Listening to mom explain why her son never had the chance to know his aunt brings out the kind of honesty and poignancy so desperately absent in today’s effects-driven cinema. Equally underemployed is Brian Dennehy, who first made an impression as the bartender in <em>10</em> and hasn’t stopped aweing audiences since. His performance here as the vet across the driveway is neither stereotypically angry nor bitter, just a man alone and unable to account for the passage of time. This is one of those quiet gems where we get dropped into the lives of a handful of characters at what turns out to be a crucial turning point in all their lives. The performances are natural and the situations play out in unforced fashion. Except for Christine Ebersole’s appearance as a nosy sitcom neighbor with two <em>bulvan</em> grandsons in tow, I hated to see it end.