Drive away dolls

Drive away dolls
Original title:Drive away dolls
Director:Ethan Coen
Running time:84 minutes
Release date:23 february 2024
Jamie and her friend Marian, looking for a fresh start, embark on a road trip, but things go awry when they cross paths with a group of hardened criminals along the way.

Mulder's Review

Drive-Away Dolls, directed by Ethan Coen and co-written with Tricia Cooke, marks a distinct and daring entry in the Coen filmography, boldly charting its course through the uncharted territories of queer comedy, road escapades and a satirical nod to the crime thriller genre. Set against the backdrop of the late 1990s, the film takes its protagonists, Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan), on a cross-country chase that's as much about self-discovery as it is about escaping the bumbling criminals who follow them.

Jamie and Marian embark on what seems like a simple task: transporting a car from Philadelphia to Tallahassee. However, the discovery of a mysterious metal suitcase in the trunk leads them into a comic whirlwind of dangers and unexpected detours. What sets Drive-Away Dolls apart is its ability to oscillate between moments of over-the-top absurdity and tender introspection, a balancing act that Ethan Coen pulls off with a masterful hand, and a testament to a career rich in twists and turns. The pace is frenetic, reflecting the chaos that ensues from the duo's ill-fated journey, but leaves room for moments of vulnerability, particularly in the exploration of Jamie and Marian's complex relationship.

Margaret Qualley's portrayal of Jamie - a charismatic, fearless lesbian with a penchant for trouble - lends the film a kinetic energy that's both captivating and nuanced. Margaret Qualley delivers every line with a precision that cuts through the film's comic framework, anchoring her character's wild spirit in a thoroughly realistic quest for identity and belonging. Opposite her, Marian, played by Geraldine Viswanathan, offers a convincing counterpoint; her performance captures the essence of a woman on the verge of self-revelation, meticulously peeling back the layers of Marian's introverted exterior to reveal a fiercely loyal and adventurous heart. The chemistry between Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan is palpable, serving as the emotional core around which the film's wackier elements gravitate.

Ethan Coen and Tricia Cooke's screenplay shines in its adoption of the '90s setting, a choice that not only provides fertile ground for nostalgia, but also cleverly sidesteps the pitfalls of modern technology, which could easily unravel the complexities of the plot. The visual palette, created by cinematographer Ari Wegner, complements this choice beautifully, imbuing the film with a vibrancy that reflects the tension and end-of-millennium excitement of the time. The decision to intersperse the narrative with psychedelic interludes and an eclectic soundtrack further strengthens the film's unique identity, marrying the visual and the auditory in a way that is at once whimsical, retro and resolutely modern.

Drive-Away Dolls is a celebration of queer joy and the resilience of friendship in the face of adversity. Ethan Coen and Tricia Cooke deftly navigate the complexities of Jamie and Marian's relationship, exploring themes of loyalty, love and the courage to be oneself in a world that often demands conformity. The film also engages in a subtle critique of societal norms and the absurdity of individuals' efforts to maintain a facade of respectability, as evidenced by the film's macabre and humorous suitcase subplot.

Above all, Drive-Away Dolls is an exuberant, heartfelt ode to the power of friendship and the liberating force of embracing one's identity. It is a testament to Ethan Coen's evolution as a filmmaker, capable of weaving the comic and the poignant into a rich, vibrant and deeply satisfying tapestry. The film marks not only a significant contribution to the genre of queer cinema, but also asserts itself as a pivotal work in the Coens' broader oeuvre, reminding us of the enduring power of narrative to challenge, entertain and inspire. Reflecting on the past through the prism of the present, Drive-Away Dolls offers a riotous and hopeful glimpse into the future of cinema, where genre boundaries are blurred and all roads lead to uncharted territories of joy and discovery.

Drive-Away Dolls
Directed by Ethan Coen
Written by Ethan Coen, Tricia Cooke
Produced by Ethan Coen, Tricia Cooke, Robert Graf, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Starring Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Beanie Feldstein, Colman Domingo, Pedro Pascal, Bill Camp, Matt Damon
Cinematography : Ari Wegner
Edited by Tricia Cooke
Music by Carter Burwell
Production company : Working Title Films
Distributed by Focus Features (United States), Universal Pictures international (France)
Release dates : February 23, 2024 (United States), April 3 2024 (France)
Running time : 84 minutes

Viewed on March 14, 2024 (VOD)

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