TIFF 2018: Driven is A Lot Of Fun

Lee Pace as John DeLorean and Jason Sudeikis as Jim Hoffman in Driven. Courtesy of TIFF.

Largely funny in the way the story is told, Driven brings the story of car inventor John DeLorean’s downfall to the big screen.

This film wisely grounds its story through a series of flashbacks as Jim Hoffman (Jason Sudeikis) sits on the witness stand.  The drug dealer-turned-FBI informant is at court to testify against his neighbor, John DeLorean (Lee Pace).  Before we know it, we go back to where everything started with his arrest by the FBI in 1974.  If not for the FBI and running in bad circles, Hoffman would not have to be in this position.  This is really absurd when you think about it.  Nobody could have expected this to happen in a million years.

Forced to move, the Jim, his wife Ellen (Judy Greer), and their two children relocate to San Diego.  This is how they end up befriending the DeLoreans, including John’s wife, Christina (Isabel Arraiza).  FBI agent Benedict J. Tissa (Corey Stoll) wants to nail someone.  It really doesn’t matter who because Hoffman will end up in jail if he can’t bring in his old drug dealing buddy, Morgan Hetrick (Michael Cudlitz).

DeLorean looks to hire 2,000 people to build 30,000 vehicles bearing his name over the course of eighteen months.  It’s an ambitious number but it’s going to require an investment from friends.  Things reach a point in which he’s not able to get any money from the banks.  What does he do but ask Hoffman for help in turning $2 million into $30 million.  This is where Jim’s old drug dealing buddy comes into play.  Unbeknownst to the parties involved, the FBI is paying a lot of attention to the events that transpire.  One wrong move and Hoffman loses his entire family.

The film’s cast comes from a variety of backgrounds but casting Jason Sudeikis and Judy Greer means comedy.  Both of them deliver the funny.  Not much is known about Jim Hoffman so Sudeikis and Greer are doing quite a bit of acting.  Lee Pace had a real person that he could research.  The two comedy stars weren’t able to find much while researching for the role.  While the film is mostly a comedy, it changes when Gerónimo Mercado’s score comes into play.  The composer’s contributions help lend the film its dramatic moments.  We could be watching a very funny scene but once the music starts playing, the tone changes rather quickly.

I especially liked how the SNL alumnus was given a leading role.  He’s largely had supporting roles in the past but this gives him a chance to truly shine.  The fact that it’s a performance in a non-studio film makes it all the more special.

Many of us know the DeLorean for being the vehicle of choice in Back to the Future.  After all, it’s the car of the future in the inventor’s own words.  Even though the name is synonymous with the car these days, how many of us know his story?

Comical but serious at times, Driven manages to offer a lot of fun in showing us the fall of John DeLorean as a bromantic comedy.  It’s less a biopic than it is a buddy comedy exploring the 1982 collapse of his company.

DIRECTOR:  Nick Hamm
SCREENWRITERS:  Colin Bateman, Alejandro Carpio
CAST:  Jason Sudeikis, Lee Pace, Judy Greer, Corey Stoll, Isabel Arraiza, Michael Cudlitz, Erin Moriarty, Iddo Goldberg

Driven held its international premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival in the Special Presentations program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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