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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Driving Miss Daisy (2014)

Set in Georgia and starting in 1948 and going through the late 1960s, a Jewish woman (Angela Lansbury) reluctantly agrees to have a chauffeur (James Earl Jones) drive her at the insistence of her son (Boyd Gaines) after her driving skills prove to be diminished. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Alfred Uhry and directed by Peter Ots. Literally a filmed play before a live audience in Australia, this is the same production that was done on Broadway in 2010 but Lansbury replaces Vanessa Redgrave in her Tony award winning performance. The 1989 film version was very popular (including a best picture Oscar win) but in opening the play up to be more cinematic and bringing in characters only talked about in the play (like Daisy's daughter in law), Uhry's play loses its intimacy and the portrayal of the relationship between Daisy and her black chauffeur is diminished. The play is a series of vignettes that slowly establishes their growing if reluctant bond and its easier to do that with just three characters rather than all the distractions of adding other characters and incidents. Lansbury is just fine but it's James Earl Jones who brings all the power of a master actor to the fore and he's just brilliant. 

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