The Driver’s Seat (1974)

Synopsis:

An unbalanced woman (Elizabeth Taylor, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) spends an entire day looking for a man willing to [beep] her.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Directed by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi (The Divine Nymph) from a screenplay by the director and Raffaele La Capria based upon Muriel Spark’s novel of the same name, The Driver’s Seat is stubbornly ambiguous and hypnotic — it’s like a daydream.

The structure of The Driver’s Seat is seductively unearthly. The film relies heavily on beautiful primary colors, but these same bright colors have been cunningly manipulated to convey the idea of imminent death — Oscar-winning cameraman Vittorio Storaro (Reds) is the man responsible for the riveting cinematography.

The darker and bleaker the movie gets, the more illuminating it all becomes — the shattering climax is strangely liberating. The Driver’s Seat also taps into the ironic nature of self-realization: one must journey into the darkest places of our mind and soul in order to find enlightenment.

Elizabeth Taylor is simply fantastic. She’s older but she’s as radiant and beautiful as ever. And Taylor gives her all to a challenging role. This mostly dialogueless movie requires Taylor to act with her eyes and she’s up to the difficult task — she could have been a great silent star. I think this is probably her last great film performance.

The cast is small, but very good. British character actors Ian Bannen (Flight of the Phoenix) and Mona Washbourne (My Fair Lady) stand out in key supporting roles. Artist Andy Warhol — yes, that Warhol! — has a rather strange cameo.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Mysterious and sometimes impenetrable, The Driver’s Seat is a kooky but intelligent and thought-provoking thriller. You have to put your popcorn and soda down and pay attention, but you will be rewarded for your sacrifice. Recommended to fans of Liz Taylor — this is one of her most intriguing performances. Color, 105, Rated R.

2 responses to “The Driver’s Seat (1974)

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