In Brief: Brian Dennehy’s last movie. If we have to say goodbye to an actor, there is no better way than Driveways

Brian Dennehy is cast as Del. He’s a widower living in a small town in New York. Del’s life consists of eating alone and playing bingo with his pals at the local veteran’s club. He’s bored and life doesn’t have much meaning.

Then Asian-Americans Kathy and her son Cody show up next door. Kathy’s hoarder sister died and she’s there to clean up the mess. If you’ve seen hoarder TV shows, or know anything about hoarders, then you know it takes close to forever to clean up and sterilize a home.

Bored with not much to do while his mom is cleaning things up, Cody strikes up a friendship with Del. His mom is grateful for the distraction and Del and Cody are grateful for something to do.

The drive to see Driveways has a lot to do with it being Dennehy’s last movie. His performance — as always — is exceptional. This is one of the reasons the movie’s producers have been pushing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science and its voters to nominate Dennehy for a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance.

It’s a righteous push. I didn’t see anything by anybody in that category in 2020 that is much better.

Driveways is also a beautiful little movie. It is crafted much like a short story. The movie has substance and depth but it’s also short, compact and has very little wasted space or time.

Credit director, Andrew Ahn for his skilled storytelling.

Big movies get sequels. Sometimes as many as three. Small movies do not. Ahn’s movie — based on a screenplay by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen — is one of those that makes you want to know more about what happened to the characters once the credits roll.

Driveways won’t get a sequel — obviously — but this is the kind of movie I always hate to see end.

There are moments in the film — a beautifully read poem by Jerry Alder and Dennehy’s final monologue among them — that make this film special. So is Ahn’s use of music that give the film a unique soul.

In the end, the main attraction is Dennehy. His career covers decades. Dennehy appeared in over 180 films and at 6’3”, Dennehy was an imposing figure. Imposing is one thing — as we all remember from John Wayne — great acting is another.

Dennehy could act. He won a Golden Globe for his work as Willy Loman in the TV version of Death of a Salesman in 2000, and has been nominated for Primetime Emmys.

His performance is not the only reason to see Driveways. The work of Lucas Jaye who plays Cody and Hong Chau as his mother, Kathy are exceptional as is the work of other minor players in Ahn’s movie.

Please don’t see the movie just for Dennehy. This is a really nice little film that’s been out awhile and as we move closer to the awards season, it is just now getting more notice.

Deserved notice.

Director: Andrew Ahn
Stars: Brian Dennehy, Lucas Jaye, Hong Chau, Jerry Adler, Christine Ebersole

Rated PG-13 for some language and mature themes. Don’t just see it because of Brian Dennehy. See this one because it’s a great little movie filled with terrific performances.

You can stream this movie on view on demand.

Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.

He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.


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