Susan Kougell of IndieWire speaks with director Coixet and stars Patricia Clarkson and Sarita Choudhury about their new feature, Learning to Drive. “Wendy is a fiery Manhattan author,” the piece begins, “whose husband has just left her for a younger woman; Darwan [Ben Kingsley] is a soft-spoken taxi driver from India on the verge of an arranged marriage. As Wendy sets out to reclaim her independence, she runs into a barrier common to many lifelong New Yorkers: she’s never learned to drive. When Wendy hires Darwan to teach her, her unraveling life and his calm restraint seem like an awkward fit.”
Here’s a brief sampler:
Isabel Coixet: We started talking about making this film with Patricia and Ben Kingsley when we were making “Elegy” (directed by Coixet, starring Clarkson and Kingsley) and we got along very well and we wanted to make another film together.
Sarita Choudhury: I had so few words in the film. In a way, I kept the words because I had to know not to say them. For us the script — the situational was also in the script; the languidness. It was because Isabel holds the camera. There was a pace created to it. When you’re acting you can feel where the camera is, but when the camera is at the end of Isabel’s hand and she’s moving it, it almost creates an intimacy between you and the camera, and you and the actor.
Patricia Clarkson: …It was relentless trying to get this film made with producer Dana Friedman. I found it an equal dose of funny and tragic. I liked the almost commedia dell’arte aspect; this absurd situation and finding the tragic comedy. A woman who is brilliant who lives a great life — she has everything, but “forgets to look up,” and then meets a man who has experienced tragic loss. They have disparate worlds. I found it a quintessential New York story, but it’s also universal.