Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Driving Miss Daisy - A movie about friendship between 2 strangers!

'Driving Miss Daisy' is one of the best movies, I have seen! Simple story of two people with entirely different backgrounds become lifelong friends.

Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy) is a Jewish widow, 72 years old, when the story begins. She is a retired teacher and very very independent and lives alone with just one maid to help her run the house. The story is set in Atlanta of the 1950s.

One day she has a driving mishap and her car gets damaged. No insurance company is prepared insure her car now because of the frequency of the accidents. Her son Boolie, who runs the family business, which is very successful, offers to hire a driver for her. She is too proud to take the help of a driver because she doesn't like to show off as a rich woman to her friends. Her son insists and hires on his company's payroll, an African American driver Hoke Colburn (Morgan Freeman), who is in his early 50s. The movie shows how she ignores his presence in the beginning and how she starts understanding him as a person. Let me quote some conversation between them and you will know how funny and sometimes heart warming, they are:

Boolie Werthan: What I need is for somebody to drive my mother around
Hoke Colburn: Well, if you don' mind my askin', sir, how come she's not hirin' for herself?
Boolie Werthan: See, it's kind of a delicate situation.
Hoke Colburn: Oh, yessir, yessir... done gone around the bend a little bit. Well, now, that'll happen as they get old...
Boolie Werthan: Oh, no, she's all there. Too-much-there is the problem!
[Hoke laughs]

...

Hoke Colburn: [on a pay phone calling Boolie after taking Daisy to the Piggly Wiggly] Hello, Mr. Werthan? Yeah, it's me. Guess where I'm at? I jus' finished drivin' yo mama to da store.
[laughs]
Hoke Colburn: Oh, yeah, she flap around some, but she's all right, she in da store. Oh, Lord, she jus' looked out da window an' seen me on da phone... prob'ly gonna throw a fit right there at da checkout!
[pause]
Hoke Colburn: You sho' right about that! Only took me six days. Same time it took the Lord to make the world! All right, 'bye now!

...

Hoke Colburn: [Hoke walks in, Boolie and Daisy are there to confront him about a missing can of salmon] Mornin', Miss Daisy. I think it's gettin' ready to clear up out there! Oh, 'scuse me, Mr. Werthan!
Boolie Werthan: Hoke, I think we're gonna have to have a little talk.
Hoke Colburn: All right, sir. Just let me get outta my coat.
[pauses, then turns to Daisy]
Hoke Colburn: Oh, Miss Daisy, yesterday, while you was out visitin', I went and ate a can of your salmon. Now, I know you said eat the left-over pork chops, but they was kinda stiff. So, I stopped at the Piggly Wiggly and got you another can. You want me just to go on and put it in the cupboard?
Daisy Werthan: [embarrassed] Yes, that'll be fine... thank you, Hoke. Well, I guess I'd better get dressed now!

...

Daisy Werthan: Did you have the air-conditioning checked? I told you to have the air-conditioning checked.
Hoke Colburn: I had the air-conditioning checked. I don't know what for. You never allow me to turn it on.
Daisy Werthan: Hush up!

...

[Hoke is trailing Daisy in the car as she walks to the supermarket]
Daisy Werthan: What are you doing?
Hoke Colburn: I'm tryin' to drive you to the store!

...

[Hoke and Miss Daisy are talking about how he can't read]
Daisy Werthan: You know your letters don't you?
Hoke Colburn: Oh yeah, yeah I know my ABC's pretty good, just can't read.
Daisy Werthan: Stop saying that you're making me mad! If you know your letters you can read. You just don't know you can read.
Hoke Colburn: Maam?
Daisy Werthan: I taught some of the stupidest children God ever put on the face of this earth and all of them could read well enough to find a name on a tombstone.

Actually, Daisy goes to the graveyard to place flowers. She has one more bunch of flowers and asks Hoke to keep them on another grave where 'Boer' is written on the tombstone. Hoke says he doesn't know to read. Knows only ABC! She asks him to look for the name which starts with 'B' and ends with 'r'! Hoke is amazed of himself.

These conversations are funny and we can enjoy watching them and through the years, they come to know each other and respect each other in their own way. The last scene is Hoke giving a piece of cake in the Old Age Home. Jessica is 90 years old now and Hoke is in his late 70s. Both of them are with a contented look to be in each other's company. The film covers a period of around 25 years. They show subtly how the atmosphere of the country changes and the relationship between the white people and other ethnic people like Jews and African American changes. The passing of the years are shown with different types of scenes of the climate etc. The cinematography is superb.

The film got 4 Oscars and 9 Oscar nominations. It got the 'Best Picture' award,Jessica Tandy got the 'Best Actress' award. Morgan Freeman was nominated for 'Best actor' award. It won 3 Golden Globe awards - Best Picture, Best Actor (Morgan Freeman), Best Actress (Jessica Tandy) etc. And many other awards and nominations. Jessica Tandy was the oldest actress to win the Oscar Academy award - she was 81!

The acting is great, the script and directing are beautifully done, and the substance, humor and beauty are such that overall, I consider "Driving Miss Daisy," one of the best movies I've ever seen.

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