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  • Writer's pictureJamie

Drive Away Dolls - Review

Oh Drive Away Dolls. I was so surprised to see some negative reviews come out as the embargo lifted for this film. The strikes last year pushed this back out of the winter release window and the current reviews seem to be pushing it out of theatres as the weeks go by. I was pretty excited to see this, what could go wrong with a crime lesbian comedy road trip film? Everything. For some people, this was saved by the snappy style of the film, for me it felt like a dying gasp trying to save it from total carnage. The writing, performances and look were all a disaster. I never walk into a film looking to hate it, I hate speaking blatantly negatively about film too, as a subjective art form it is impossible to say something is bad, but this film defies all logic and I can’t help but dub it as such.

Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) are very different lesbians. Jamie is classical one dimensional character in that way that only enjoys sex and pushes her motives on to the dynamically flat character of Marian, the shockingly opposite. In theory, this pairing has worked before in comedy films, they just seem to be able pulli it off with more consistent writing and better chemistry between the leads. 

The two are off on a road trip, Marian to see her aunt in Florida, and jamie to follow along. They get caught up while doing a drive away. They pick up a car that was booked by The Chief (Colman Domingo) to carry precious and secretive cargo. The chase begins as The Chief’s lackeys pursue a trail left by the lesbians.

We watch the wild journey they take down the country to deliver the car, intended hilarity ensues and credits roll. 

This film exhausted me, I had a similar reaction to Cocaine Bear that felt like it was trying so hard in every way that made it fall even harder at every hurdle. It is hard to judge the acting when I thought that the writing was as poor as it is. I do feel like there is no chemistry with these actors in any way though which doesn’t help and makes some scenes play out like nails on a chalkboard.

I was also not a fan of the editing style and a lot of shot choices. While some of them were lit beautifully and as stills worked really well. I think the transitions that came after every single scene felt like a random preset was applied in iMovie and took away from the visual style for me. 

Some of the discord surrounding the film is the writing, done by Ethan Coen and his wife Tricia Cooke. They both said that wrote it together in order to spend some time together. A lovely concept, but unfortunately not a lovely result. The controversy comes from an assumption about the couple. Tricia has spoken openly about her relationship to her husband and the fact that she identifies as queer. While I don't necessarily think this is a glowing representation for the lesbian community, it is also not completely from the point of view of people who have no idea.

I am usually here for films that don’t take themselves too seriously but Drive Away Dolls feels like the least self aware film to come out in a long time. It is trying so hard to be something that it flips itself back around to just being a tonally insane “comedy” where the jokes, relationships and visuals all come together to do absolutely nothing. Much preferred if this film could indeed drive away. 


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