Have you ever cleaned out the home of a hoarder? I’ve done it thrice: once for a grandparent, decades unburied from dust and chotchkies; once for a mom, too attached to ruined childhood memories; and once for a depressed young man, cigarette ashes coating beautiful tile. The method is the same though, as you clear through a senseless assortment of clutter, forgettable nonsense that entered your life to weigh further on your cross beams, the emotional attachments have to be stripped to bear the beautiful hardwood floors underneath. Andrew Ahn’s Driveways sifts through such an experience as a lonely boy, his overworked mother, and their temporary, older neighbor collaborate on making their next steps be change for the better.
Driveways feels like a movie I’ve seen before: there’s too much for one person to do, with a disconnected, nervous son attaching more quickly to the vet next door than the heathen children down the street. The story is predictable, but the journey warms the heart. Hong Chau (Downsizing) and Lucas Jaye are an endearing mother-son duo. The dynamic is respectable: a team solidified by a phone call from an absent father and irritable but careful handling for a delicate son, too vulnerable for boyish wrestling. There’s a pre-homosexual in Jaye’s role, but that’s me constantly searching for that queer narrative. Brian Dennehy stays on the optimistic side of crotchety, welcome to inviting in people different from himself, and struggling with the ways he hadn’t in the past. His quiet minutes alone and the congenial behavior with these near strangers smooths a good natured, withering performance of a man succumbing to the limitations of age and stubbornness. The imperfect nature of the film is ignorable in its warm handling of troubling turning points; it plays like masterworks of Hirokazu Koreeda in its ability to make family drama not capital-D Dramatic. A handsome entry into the catharthis of a deep clean.