Alone Together: Our Review of ‘Drive-Away Dolls’

Posted in Theatrical by - February 22, 2024
Alone Together: Our Review of ‘Drive-Away Dolls’

Ethan Coen’s Drive-Away Dolls is a movie about two lesbians, Jamie and Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan and Margaret Qualley). facing the 21st century. Living in Philadelphia, both have reasons to leave their old life. At least, their reasons are both related to their relationship status. One is helplessly single while the other is newly single after cheating on her cop girlfriend Sukie (Beanie Feldstein). Their plan is to get a car from one of those national rental places and drive to Tallahassee. Even if this movie is just about an innocuous trip, the dialogue is distinct enough here, for better or for worse.

There are other benefits to Drive-Away Dolls even if it ended up being about an innocuous lesbian road trip. It may still be the kind of movie with a diverse group of characters who make similar sounding dialogue come out differently. But the thing is, the car that Jamie and Marian rent has two secret pieces of luggage. An effete mid level gangster (Colman Domingo) sends his henchmen to retrieve said pieces of luggage from our heroines. The first piece of luggage contains the severed head of a man named Santos (Pedro Pascal). The second contains important objects to Channel (Matt Damon), a politician. 

I might be alone in this, but Drive-Away Dolls, this hybrid of comedy and crime, feels like a throwback. It fits in less with the Coens’ great but gentrified era and more with their grimy origins. This throwback also has references to different eras of noir. There’s the 1950s noir with its secret cases. And by referencing neo-noir and its neon lighting, it produces a glossier version of the look of the Coens’ 80s era. What that also means is that its reference can feel dated, even if this is a period piece. What looks like a 90s film may also have 90s politics. Its depiction of dangerous Philly feels cartoonish with its skeevy bars and alleyways where people die.

The same goes for Drive-Away Dolls‘ depiction of the South which, well, I understand if some may be mad at it. Period pieces will always wink at their viewers, and it does that here as these characters contemplate their actions’ effects. Regardless of all of this, this film is inoffensive enough. If anything, the movie teaches us that no matter how powerful you think you are, there is a lesbian who is more powerful than you will ever be. Thank Coen and co-writer Tricia Cooke for that. I’m just happy that Bill Camp is doing this instead of Christian propaganda films. And going back to the lesbians, they can do everything including, spoiler alert, f*** Matt Damon.

Watch Drive-Away Dolls in a theatre near you.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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