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Driving Miss Daisy
★★★☆☆
First run Seenmorethanonce Tv laptop

1989’s Best Picture Oscar winner was hardly the best movie of that year (it doesn’t even crack my top 25) but it’s still a fine film with a terrific cast made by a great director from a Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The gentle, tender story covers the twenty-five-year relationship between a wealthy, strong-willed, Southern Jewish lady (Jessica Tandy) and her unassailable Black chauffeur (Morgan Freeman). The play is the first in a series by Alfred Uhry that came to be known as his "Atlanta Trilogy.” These theatrical works all center on Jewish characters dealing with the changing face of race relations in Atlanta, Georgia during the first half of the 20th century.

Adapting his three-character play, usually performed on a bare stage with just two chairs to simulate a car, Uhry opens up his story with a lot of period detail and memorable characters added into the screenplay. At the helm of the picture is the great Australian director Bruce Beresford (Breaker Morant, Tender Mercies, Crimes of the Heart). While hardly the highpoint of this filmmaker’s career, he handles the potentially schmaltzy material well, and the movie’s big Oscar wins—for Best Picture, Actress, Adapted Screenplay, and Make-Up, along with it's four other nominations—enabled the green light for Beresford’s next project, Black Robe, which is the type of spectacularly uncommercial movie that only gets made after a filmmaker collects the kind of awards capitol this movie provided. 

The way Driving Miss Daisy depicts the passage of time is lovely. No titles or music cues signify the advancing of years, they just roll by and we subtly register that things have progressed via subtle changes in make-up, wardrobe, and the way the characters interact with each other. Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy both give wonderfully understated performances, and Dan Aykroyd delivers an excellent supporting turn as Miss Daisy’s son Boolie. The playful synthesizer score by Hans Zimmer (My Beautiful Laundrette, The Last Emperor, Rain Man) is one of those wonderful soundtracks whose instrumentation may be totally out of time with its film’s period but feels perfectly in step with the central character and overall vibe of the story.

Twitter Capsule:
While hardly the actual best picture of '89, this Oscar-winning film about the decades-long relationship between a stubborn Southern lady and her unassailable black chauffeur is beautifully written, directed, acted, and scored. Gentle and funny, it's a feel-good film that doesn't insult the audience. 

Directed by Bruce Beresford
Produced by Richard D. Zanuck and Lili Fini Zanuck

Screenplay by Alfred Uhry
Based on the play by Alfred Uhry

With: Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Aykroyd, Patti LuPone, Esther Rolle, and Joann Havrilla

Cinematography: Peter James
Editing: Mark Warner
Music: Hans Zimmer

Runtime: 99 min
Release Date: 13 December 1989
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Color