What a huge difference twenty-four years can make. From 1989 to the present the movie Driving Miss Daisy hasn’t changed at all, but I certainly have.
When my late husband and I viewed the 1989 movie Driving Miss Daisy sometime in 1990, the word that best describes how I felt about the script at that time is “tedious.”
It was hard for me to feel empathy for Miss Daisy; instead, I found it annoying that she maintained such a stubborn attitude and lack of appreciation for the help she was receiving through her chauffeur and cook. Big home, plenty of money, a son who cared, friends – and yet I mostly saw her as being sharp-tongued and often downright ill-tempered. I just couldn’t relate to her circumstances or those of Hoke, her chauffeur.
After all, I had a husband and the sense of security that went along with that, the ability to hold a full-time job, a car to drive, places to go and things to see. Miss Daisy’s world and mine were miles apart.
Fast forward from 1990 to now
When I viewed Driving Miss Daisy for the second time a couple of nights ago, I watched it through a different set of eyes and from an altered perspective on life. Like Miss Daisy, I am now also a widow. Although I can still get behind the wheel of my car and travel independently, certain realities of the passage of time are hard for me to ignore. The almost seven years that I have lived alone in my townhome have literally flown by. Boom – gone. There is little likelihood that time will pass less quickly in the next seven years. Will I still be able to travel as independently then?
Two ways that I have already changed: I now find it preferable to take back roads and side streets rather than the freeways; and, due to a recent hospitalization, a sense of increased vulnerability has settled into my state of mind. There is neither a chauffeur nor a cook in the wings waiting to help me if I am unable to perform those tasks. Do I have my assets in order and a support base in place for whatever type of assistance I may need in the future?
Indeed, the movie took on a different meaning for me the second time around. This time I found it far more engrossing and thought-provoking than tedious.
Much of Driving Miss Daisy takes place in a car. When Mrs. (“Miss”) Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy) has her driver’s license revoked due to an accident, her son Boolie (Dan Aykroyd) hires Hoke Colburn (Morgan Freeman) to be her chauffeur.
That didn’t go over well with Miss Daisy, who desperately wanted to maintain her independence. Doing so meant taking public transportation or walking to the market and temple services – six weeks of gentle persuasion by Hoke who drove alongside her finally paid off when she reluctantly climbed into the back seat of her Hudson automobile and allowed Hoke to drive her to the market.
Therein began a new stage of life for this Jewish woman and her African-American driver. As the movie progresses, the audience sees many changes take place for both of them in a backdrop of the still segregated South and elements of discrimination against people of Jewish faith.
The friendship between the two main characters deepens following the death of her cook Idella (Esther Rolle). We finally see it reaching full fruition in the final scenes that are set in a nursing home – Miss Daisy has come to the realization that Hoke has become her best friend, and he, too, acknowledges that by tenderly feeding her bites of pie.
Patti LuPone played a smaller role as Miss Daisy’s daughter-in-law, Florine, who was more interested in being a socialite than being helpful and loving to her mother-in-law.
Accolades for this movie were many
From Wikipedia.org: Among the many honors garnered for the movie and its performers, the film received nine nominations at the 62nd Academy Awards in 1990, winning four for Best Picture, Best Actress (Jessica Tandy), Best Makeup, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Jessica Tandy, at age 81, became the oldest winner in the history of the Best Actress category.
Would I recommend this movie to others?
Maybe. I believe seniors would relate to the script more than young people. Both Tandy and Freeman were outstanding in their roles, with Tandy having the responsibility for delivering much of the dialogue for the film. Although not limited in his role to doing so, Freeman often had the task of intoning “Yas’um” with a variety of inflections. He displayed an uncanny way of showing expression in more subtle fashions rather than through extensive dialogue.
Although it is highly unlikely that I will watch Driving Miss Daisy for a third time, I did enjoy my travel back in time provided by a second go at this film. I consider that experience to have been a bit of a wake-up call for me to more consciously “redeem the time” as my own future unfolds – time being the unrelenting taskmaster that unfortunately stands still for no one.