Page 1 of 3
The Morgan Freeman/Jessica Tandy Oscar-winner gets a legit DigiBook high-def release....
Warner / 99 Minutes / 1989 / Rated PG / Street Date: January 8, 2013
Driving Miss Daisy tells the story of the most unlikely of relationships, a 25-year friendship between Daisy Werthan, Jewish, widowed and wealthy, and her long-suffering driver Hoke Colburn (Morgan Freeman.) Recently unable to drive, Daisy is not at all thrilled at first at the prospect of having a chauffeur, but Hoke's good graces and innate decency eventually win her over. As the 40's pass into the 70's, their relationship begins to mirror the cultural and social upheavals that surround them. Slowly building a relationship that at first seemed impossible, they ultimately learn that love can transcend all differences.
If Driving Miss Daisy sounds a little like a Lifetime movie of the week, that's because at times it is. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, its stage origins are apparent in the limited locations and sometimes forced introduction of supporting players to liven things up. The slow nature of the story also aches for more dramatic momentum. While it is admirable that no sexual dimension is introduced into the relationship, the core dynamic between Daisy and Hoke lacks real urgency.
Also a detriment in the movie is any lack of true interaction with the world around them that is so integral to the themes of the story. Some of the juxtapositions don't work simply because there is nothing to juxtapose them against. But such complaints are minor, and woe be unto a cynic like me not to have to whine about something. The Oscar-caliber acting of Tandy (who did indeed take home the statuette) and Freeman make it shine, and it is this fascinating and witty by-play that works so beautifully because of its simplicity.
I won't deny that I don't quite think Driving Miss Daisy was worthy of its 1989 Oscar win for Best Picture. It's warm, funny, very well acted, and directed as well as it probably could have been by Bruce Beresford (who, surprisingly, wasn't even nominated for Best Director). I did like it, and could even love it in spots. But now, decades later, I'm not sure it holds up as a true modern classic compared to some other recent Best Picture winners. For some, maybe it does. But even a curmudgeon like me had to admit to getting misty-eyed from time to time. So get out your handkerchiefs, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.