mon 15/04/2024

Driving Mum review - a dark comedy that has you laughing out loud | reviews, news & interviews

Driving Mum review - a dark comedy that has you laughing out loud

Driving Mum review - a dark comedy that has you laughing out loud

A son fulfils his mother’s wishes and stifles his own

A dark and deliciously low-key comedy Still from Driving Mum directed by Hilmar Oddsson

Hilmar Oddsson’s award-winning film Driving Mum is pitch-perfect. Jon has spent the last 30 years looking after his domineering mother. There they sit, side by side, in a remote cottage on Iceland’s western fjords, knitting jumpers to sell to the neighbourhood co-op. And as they work, their skeins of wool become entwined – a gentle reminder of how inextricably enmeshed their lives have become.

Now, though, Mamma is planning to die and she makes her son promise that he will take her back to her distant village for burial. But she also wants to be photographed at Gullfoss, a beauty spot famous for its spectacular waterfalls. And this dark and deliciously low-key comedy follows Jon’s efforts to honour these conflicting demands.

The dutiful son dresses his mother’s corpse, makes up her face, sits her in the back of his clapped out Ford Cortina and sets off with the dog for Eyrarbakki on the south coast. As they wend their way gingerly across country, the empty landscape becomes as much a character as the people they encounter on this ill-fated pilgrimage. Shot in black and white, the desolate terrain and worsening weather echo Jon’s increasing sense of desolation as, little by little, the truth about his wasted life begins to emerge.

Oddsson orchestrates each scene with loving care. The car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, for instance, but a hiker turns up and lends a hand. As they delve under the bonnet, the two strangers share intimacies – Jon in Icelandic, the foreigner in French. The hiker tells how walking helps him accept his impending death while the normally monosyllabic Jon opens up to reveal his frustrations, hopes and dreams. Neither understands a word the other is saying, yet the conversation is as deftly synchronised as a duet in a Wagner opera.Still from Driving Mum directed by Hilmar OddssonKristbjörg Kjeld is brilliant as the the back seat driver from hell – a disgruntled corpse who occasionally opens her eyes to berate her feckless son. And Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson makes your heart bleed for the unworldly Jon and his long-suffering ineptitude.

As it turns out, Jon is on a quest of his own. His first act of disobedience is to ignore his mother’s command to turn left; instead, he goes right in order to find out what happened to Bergdis, his long lost love. And the more he discovers, the more this sorry tale evolves from a sad story of missed opportunity into an Icelandic saga, of truly mythic proportions. Pure delight.

Neither understands a word the other is saying, yet the conversation is as deftly synchronised as a duet in a Wagner opera

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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