When a relative dies, there has to be someone there to pick up the pieces and tie the loose ends. Cleaning out the house, dividing up the valuables, selling the house, etc. It’s never an easy thing to do, but imagine the worst-case scenario in this situation, and that’s what Kathy (Hong Chau) and her son Cody (Lucas Jaye) have to deal with in Driveways. Kathy’s sister, April, passed away prior to the start of the film, and Kathy is tasked with getting her affairs in order. Little did Kathy know, that in her later years, April had become a championship-winning hoarder. Piles and piles of stuff had accumulated and there’s a smell attached to something no one would ever want to deal with. The electric bill had gone into collections. Kathy and Cody can’t afford to stay in a hotel so they sleep on the porch of April’s house.
“Cody is a special kid who has a hard time finding friends…”
It’s an altogether unpleasant situation, and Kathy is folding under the pressure of dealing with it all, plus making sure that Cody is okay. Luckily, her sister’s next-door neighbor, Del (Brian Dennehy in one of his last roles) becomes a great help. He lends them an extension cord so that they can see to unearth the house from decades of detritus. He looks after Cody so that Kathy can work. It’s a great relief to her and Cody enjoys spending time with Del. He’s a Korean War veteran who lives alone after the loss of his wife. His friends are in different states of physical and psychological decline. For Del, the time with Cody is certainly welcome.
At first glance, Driveways is not dissimilar to St. Vincent starring Bill Murray, but it lives in a different wheelhouse. It has a greater sentimentality and Del doesn’t have the same brusque demeanor that Vincent had. Hong Chau has similar issues with her ex, although there’s no danger in him wanting to take Cody from her. Driveways is a quieter, more meditative film.
"…so that they can see to unearth the house from decades of detritus."