The Driver by Stephen King: Review

The film looks like it was made in Maine, small towns here and there. Very quaint. Maria Bello starts in a small town and travels on Highway 84 to another small town. There’ s no freeway connecting anything close, so I know it’s not California. Highway 84 is the road Maria Bello does not want to travel on again. The real Highway 84 goes from Colorado to Georgia. No one in the film has a Southern ascent; most of the actors look decrepit and uneducated: Pointy chins, bulging eyes, protruding foreheads and not many African-Americans. These actors look like they’ve stepped from Renaissance/Baroque paintings by Breughel or Valesquez. All of them sound like Yankees, alone, self-reliant, steadfast. My perception of Southerners is they chat more. The pace of life in the film seems slow. I’ve read enough EB White essays and stories to recognize Maine when I see it.

Preposterous describes this film well. After a book signing/reading/gathering at a faraway library, Mario Bello drives home using the shortcut, scenic route. A board lies flat on the road with nails sticking straight up. Mario Bello runs over the board and gets a flat. She stops. Being a woman, of course she doesn’t know how to change a flat tire, so she flags down the first passing motorist who is a serial killer. He rapes her and leaves her for dead. [This sort of thing doesn’t happen in California where pot growers use national parks, national forests, state protected forests and scenic areas for growing fields. Pot growing want traffic rolling safety and swiftly so no attention is drawn to them. Hence the roads are clean, clear and well-maintained. Caveat: Because of the truck traffic, be careful during the harvest season in autumn.]

Maria Bello crawls from a storm drain and gets back to civilization, a local bar/restaurant/gas station/what not. She calls and gets a ride home. She doesn’t call the cops. The film shows Maine cops as being in-your-face appearing spooky, and highly unreliable. The story becomes one of retribution, from a woman who can’t change a flat tire. She’s is going to drive hundreds of miles from home to kill the bad people and get away.

How does the crime writing lady succeed? Mario Bello has a Global Positioning Satellite unit in her car that does not just give directions. [I’m suspicious of persons who use GPS devices. If a driver can’t look at a map, put it into the brain and follow it, that driver has obviously lost 20 IQ points somewhere on the road of life.] However, Maria’s GPS device has added features – asking questions and poising facts.

Next, Maria Bello relies on her Knitting Circle Crime Fighting Quartet, characters she has created in her novels, and especially the lead woman. How are you going to do it? Maria must be ruthless. Reference to the KCCFQ serves as Maria reaching into her imagination and determining how to get the best retribution. The plotting in the mind is elementary, and sometimes completely lame. At minute 85 is a mind brew which makes no sense. Next on the broadcast program are minutes of ads. The viewer is diverted and loses attention. I never knew or appreciated how valuable ads were in telling the story to keep the viewer from realizing there are huge gaps in the tale.

The upshot of the plotting is Maria Bello kills the mother, and the next night kills the brother and an hour later the rapist. She uses the same gun plus killings in the same family equals serial killer. I’ve watched a number of cop shows on TV, and in the lamest, the cops would arrest Maria. I know the local cops and the FBI ought to be looking. Where to start? When a cop makes a traffic stop or a query (vehicle to vehicle), cops now-a-days usually record the license plate number of the target car. Maine Cop goes to Maria Bello’s car and asks, what were you doing around the truck (driven by brother and at other times by rapist). I can only guess Maine cops don’t follow up-to-date procedures.

Overall, having the scope of the writer’s imagination presented, I have to agree with the mother’s assessment: The writer does crappy work. The story and characters prove it.

P.S. None of the faults are the responsibility of Maria Bello.

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