Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
Directed by Bruce Beresford
My review of “Driving Miss Daisy,” the timeless classic from 1989, cannot be read without the beautiful theme by Hans Zimmer playing in the background. Here, play this as you read on.
Ahh, that’s better. Now, where was I? Of course, just reviewing my favorite movie of all-time. Truly. No joke. It has been, ever since I saw it. Crazy, right? Since I’m not, you know, 70 years old.
Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy, in an Oscar-winning role) is a stubborn, sarcastic, scathingly honest Jewish woman living in Georgia. When she crashes her car in her own driveway, her son Boolie (Dan Akroyd) knows she’ll need a chauffeur to get to temple and the Piggly Wiggly. But she simply won’t have it, some man sitting in her kitchen and invading her privacy. She’ll get around just fine without one. Regardless, Boolie hires Hoke Colburn (Morgan Freeman) to drive his mother around. Their complicated relationship, over the course of a decades-long emotional journey, spreads a subtle social message about love, acceptance, and overcoming adversity.
“Driving Miss Daisy” is my go-to when I need a pick-me-up. Something about Morgan Freeman’s accent, laugh, and banter with Akroyd and Tandy can always put a smile on my face. He’s positively delightful. Tandy is at all times in control of her emotions in a stellar performance. She has a way with comedy, even at 80. Even after watching it for the nth time, her crotchetiest lines still pull a laugh out of me—even when I can quote exactly what she’ll say before she says it.
What helps Tandy’s terrific line delivery are terrific lines for her to deliver. Thanks to screenwriter Alfred Uhry (who also wrote the stage play the film is based on), Tandy and Freeman have a masterpiece to work with. The script is filled with literary flourishes and subtle social commentary, but the Georgian keeps it peachy, not preachy. Uhry has a way with words. It’s an inspirational story about friendship and love, but it’s not sappy. It handles tough subjects like bigotry and hate with a soft hand. You might cry, but you’ll certainly laugh. “Driving Miss Daisy” is a dramedy we can all love.
Cinematographer Peter James creates in “Driving Miss Daisy” an atmosphere that sets you right down into 1950s Georgia. It’s soft and bright, almost with an angelic haze surrounding it at all times. It’s beautiful, and Zimmer’s score certainly doesn’t hurt the feeling.
Like an expensive wine, “Driving Miss Daisy” only gets better with age. Reviews can’t do it any justice. Just watch it.
“Driving Miss Daisy” is on Blu-ray and DVD.