peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2024 03 22 DriveAwayDolls

Drive Away Dolls (2024)

/noise/movies | Link

Prompted by Jason Di Rosso's interview with director/co-write Ethan Coen and wife/co-writer Tricia Cooke. It's a bust but I can't say I wasn't warned: they did mention it was a 1990s retro thing and the rating at IMDB is dire. Cooke made it clear she was revisiting her coming-of-dykedom on the east coast of the USA during the 90s; the scene where the younger version of the repressed half of the couple (Geraldine Viswanathan, Australian) pervs on her nude (female) neighbour is purportedly autobiographical. Margaret Qualley plays the mouthier side, notionally a free-and-easy Texan. (I don't remember her from Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.) The story lifts some tropes from Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, spelling out things that were more effective when left implicit in the original material. This fantasy insistence that what the auteur says goes for these ancient pop-culture provocations is tiresome, but I guess it's little different to the increasingly common expropriation of imagination by cinematic adaptations (cf the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Lord of the Rings, etc.). Or one woman's referentialism is another man's appropriation. There's a bland cameo by Matt Damon as a family-man senator, a slightly more interesting one from Miley Cyrus and too much of the politics of the day — Ralph Nader, Chelsea Clinton — that nobody cares about now.

The humour left me cold, as did the music. (Diana Krall? Please, Bob Dylan put a permanent kink in You Belong To Me for Natural Born Killers in those very same 1990s.) The politics of agency ain't great either: the girls try to make a go of their escapist road trip but the boys get on top and it is only chance, ego, intemperance — the essence of the male? — that allows them to take their ill-gotten funds and get hitched in Victoria-of-the USA Massachusetts. No spoiler: things are so strait there's never a chance of won't-they.

Another reason for watching this was that to find out if the Cohen brothers can function separately. It doesn't look good for Ethan: Joel went off and made Macbeth with wife Frances McDormand as I suggested someone do. It can't be any lamer than this.

Manohla Dargis: a leaden romp. Colman Domingo lights things up as a gangland boss. Other reviewers seem to have watched something else or succumbed to the marketing. As Dana Stevens said of about another movie, this ain't Thelma and Louise.