NR – Comedy, Drama (81 minutes)
When driving to a funeral makes life worth living…
We’ve reached the end of June. In what has felt like six years compiled into just a few short months, the world is on fire; times are heavy, to say the very least. I’m sure many of you are itching to return to the theatre (as am I) — if for no other reason than to rediscover the escapism that once captivated your imagination and left you feeling hopeful about the future. Fortunately, there are still small glimpses into these, now, nostalgic feelings at the click of your remote.
Caring son, Ryan, makes the difficult decision to leave his terminally ill mother and drive to the Highlands of Scotland to attend a funeral. Already worried about leaving his mother alone, Ryan is dismayed to learn she has arranged for a very distant relative, Sunny, to travel with him. Aware that any wish of his mother’s could be her last, Ryan begrudgingly agrees and sets off to collect Sunny in a banged up little car that will become their home for the next 3 days.Official Synopsis
Drive Me to the End focuses mostly on communication and acceptance. The character of Sunny is on the autism spectrum; and though the actress, Kate Lister (Sea Change, The Heights, Clickbate), isn’t autistic, she met with Carla Burn — who works at ‘The I CAN Network’ (https://www.facebook.com/theicannetwork/) — to learn more about autism and raising awareness. In addition, writer-director-star Richard Summers-Calvert (Edge of Extinction, King of Crime) met with Lisa Yeats, a professional British strongwoman, to canvas the script and make sure the material was handled delicately. As a mother of two children on the autism spectrum, she provided guidance to Summers-Calvert as to what might need to be reworked.
I specifically wanted to mention this because it’s important that we not only normalize stories of people on the spectrum, but that we also hire them — whether that be for consultation or lead/supporting roles. Without spoilers, Ryan and Sunny’s trip steers them towards some truly entertaining interactions: one in particular with a deaf character named Simon, played by David Bower (Four Weddings and a Funeral). Bower is deaf himself and with his inclusion in the story, Drive Me to the End makes significant strides in normalizing disability within the film and in practice. In my experience, this is hard to come by in a film and even more difficult for independent films on smaller budgets.
The script, I would argue, isn’t just solid — it’s sharp. And despite some jagged writing around those sharp edges (particularly with a scene involving a car crash), Summers-Calvert and Lister have nearly perfected their comedic timing. Beyond their general knack for comedy, the connection between Sunny and Ryan, and the actors for that matter, seems genuine. Not often is an on-screen relationship so honest and raw that it elicits so many different emotions: sweetness, compassion, and sometimes shock. You can’t help but to root for these two and find yourself wanting to see the relationship grow and evolve over time. In fact, all of the supporting cast members are phenomenal (especially Tracey Wilkinson’s portrayal of Ryan’s terminally ill mother). Unfortunately, and like all great road trip movies, all the time in the world spent with these characters still isn’t enough.
To my surprise, the film delivers on the promise of being that feel-good summer flick for any occasion. It’s stitched together by really slick transitions and utilizes multiple different styles of filming, which isn’t necessarily expected with a film on a small budget. Nonetheless, the quality of photography from Edward Lui (Unhinged, Mummy Reborn) paired with the consistency from colourist Francois Kamffer (Wonder Woman, Ex Machina) form a cohesive experience from start to finish; tonally, thematically, comedically — it’s all there. Oliver Graham’s score should also be given credit for the consistency, with seamless transitions between diegetic and non-diegetic sounds that compliment the mobility of the main story.
Drive Me to the End‘s quest to communicate the need for acceptance and normalization is inspiring. While we strive for a better world, it is important to take a step back and laugh together; that is precisely what this film does best. Below is a link to the film’s website that you should check out:
To finish, what I love about this film and am personally so proud of, is that all of these very serious topics touched on here, are delivered via beautifully awkward British humour. It’s relatable and brutally honest. We have ourselves a meaningful film wrapped up in comedy; what a beautiful way to learn without even realising it. This is a feel-good film through and through and predominantly, it will celebrate the incredibly positive message of communication. – Richard Summers-Calvert
You can find the film on any one of the platforms listed below:
INDEMAND (TVOD), BRIGHTHOUSE, ATLICE, FANDANGONOW, OVERDRIVE (TVOD), BREAKER (TVOD), and TUBI.
Its U.S. Amazon Prime release date is September 5th, 2020.