Emotional Truth And Subtlety Are Roadside Companions In ‘Driveways’

Hong Chau, Lucas Jaye, and Brian Dennehy provide lived-in performances in this quiet and subtle gem of a feature.

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Brian Dennehy and Lucas Jaye in "Driveways." (FilmRise)
Driveways, directed by Andrew Ahn, is available to stream on video on-demand and digital. Under less deft direction and less incisive writing, Driveways could fall into the obscurity of just another schmaltzy indie family drama. Luckily, Ahn’s direction, as well as the fantastic, subtle script by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, presents an authentic, lived-in world, with characters we truly care about.

Driveways tells a simple story. Kathy (Hong Chau) and her son Cody (Lucas Jaye) arrive to clean out the house of Kathy’s recently deceased sister. Her sister, it turns out, was a hoarder, so the effort to get the house ready to sell, turns into a more daunting task than Kathy expected. In the meantime, Cody, a lonely, somewhat introverted child, finds his days wandering around the neighborhood. Before long, he strikes up a tentative friendship with an elderly neighbor, Del (Brian Dennehy).

Lucas Jaye and Hong Chau in “Driveways.” (FilmRise)

Each scene is a master class in subtle character building that is never boring. Often Ahn lets the actors have moments where they just spend time together, doing some small task, reading, mowing the lawn, shopping, and playing bingo at the local VFW. Once again, it might sound dull, but it ends up being engrossing in a way that a true friendship can exist in the seemingly mundane activities of life. 

Brian Dennehy, Lucas Jaye, and Hong Chau in “Driveways” (FilmRise)

The true mark of a great movie is that the viewer feels sad, having to leave the world so soon. At one point, Del tells of how he took a cross-country trip, long ago, and how he regrets not spending the time to really enjoy the journey. As a viewer, all I could think of was how much I wanted a sequel to this movie where Del, Kathy, and Cody take that cross-country trip. But, the wistful loss of those sorts of moments is key to this movie. And, we as viewers, like Del, know that we will never have that journey, so we will have to enjoy the moments we have.

(Editor’s note: Here is Bruce Purkey’s video review of Driveways, which is now available on VOD and Digital)

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