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Driving Mum (Film Review)

2 min read

The journey of self-discovery, acceptance, adventure and ridding one's self of the past comes in all shapes, sizes and lengths. Usually, a physical journey accompanies those on a spiritual one too. The death of a loved one is often a trigger and can lead to difficult truths, realisations, resentment and most painfully, regret. The Icelandic/Estonian co production of Driving Mum contains all of the above, filmed solemnly in black and white, journeying from the West to the South of Iceland. This story of grief is at times, funny and heart-warming and have you ponder events in your past, just like Jon and his dead mother in the back seat.

When Jon's domineering and possessive mother passes away, he sets out on a journey across Iceland to honour her last wish, to be buried in her hometown. Along with his beloved and loyal dog, Jon's journey takes on new forms. Meeting people along the way, making personal discoveries, questioning his entire existence and having existential conversations with his deceased mother on the back seat of his car.

By no means an original story, the overbearing parent who wants to control their child, even though their child is in their 50s. Their domineering presence leaves a void that their son or daughter can't fill even though they were the source or reason for their now loneliness. Driving Mum has these basics of this dynamic but what sets the film apart is most certainly the journey across the amazing landscape of Iceland. This serves as a fantastic backdrop as well as just showing the vastness of the space between people. Along with the sorrowful black and white tone, the empty lands exaggerate just ow cut off from everything Jon was and how he allowed himself to get this way. The film also has the added oddness, the scenes where Jon talks to his dead mother in the car, sharing hard truths with each other and us are some of the best scenes in the film.

Director never wants us to feel as if this is a straight forward journey.  With moments of surrealism mixed into the story through a troupe of clowns and mimes that appear firstly, blocking Jon on the road and later in his dream where he also gets to talk to his long-lost love again. These elements moulded into the story give hope that Jon will get a second chance at living, despite the circumstances at the end of the film. And there is hope that he gets to be reunited again with his adorable dog who never wants to leave his side.

Although the story begins with loss, the greater regrets in life are played out and we get see a life, what happened and what could have been. Strange at times but at the heart a tender story of discovery.

Driving Mum screened at and will be in
UK Cinemas from 1st March 2024