Newest Review: ... have been easy to go down the TV Movie route and make a saccharine portrayal of a hard life. Thankfully the film steers clear of this alth... more
An absorbing movie thats moving but prepare to be frustrated
Riding In Cars With Boys (DVD)
Member Name: IzzyS
Riding In Cars With Boys (DVD)
Advantages: Cast/performances, heart wrenching at times, thought provoking,
Disadvantages: Rather long and fairly depressing in general, not one to watch if you want a happy romance movie!
- Story -
Riding In Cars With Boys is set in the 1960s tells the story of a young Beverley Donofrio, who ends up with an unplanned pregnancy aged 15 with an 18 year old called Ray that she isn't really in love with. She strives to keep her studying going and keeps the news from her family as long as she could, relying on her best friend Fay for advice and support but of course eventually she has to tell them and she ends up feeling forced to marry Ray, who tries to make her excited about this marriage but of course her heart isn't really in it. She strives to study and make more of a life for herself but will it be possible for her to achieve all her father had hoped for her, to make her family proud once again? you'll have to watch the movie to see what happens.
- More info./Thoughts/Opinions -
I found myself quite engrossed in the story and I certainly connected with Beverley, who, between the scenes based in the 60s and the present day scenes make you slowly question whether or not to feel sorry for her, given the changes in her relationship with Jason.
The movie is based on a book, an autobiography to be exact and I felt that it certainly reflected the time it was mainly set in very well (ie the 1960s), in that it felt very true to life. It came across as a movie that has had alot of thought put into it, with the different characters all clearly having their own personalities and so on. The main character Beverley is particularly well portrayed by Drew Barrymore and I think most women would find it difficult not to feel for her struggle to pull herself above the drudgery and to, you know, really make something of herself so to speak. The key word to describe the plot of this movie is, undoubtedly, frustration - not frustration in terms of the movie or story being almost good but not quite or confusing in any way at all but frustration in terms of, as I say, being the main emotion felt by Beverley and as we slowly discover more about her and her future becomes more clear, you can see how dedicated she is to try to further her studies and get her head above water.
When I say that its perhaps not clear whether to feel sorry for her, I'm referring to rather late on in the movie, whereby we end up in present time (well roughly 2001 when the movie was made anyway) where Bev and Jason, a teenager now, are travelling with hopes of an important reunion and the discussion that takes place highlights some of Jasons misgivings relating to his mother, indeed what happens (more precisely her behaviour) when this happens results in an angry and frustrated outburst from Jason and it did make me wonder whether perhaps I had seen things from the wrong point of view earlier in the movie - perhaps Beverley is more selfish than I'd thought - or is she? there's also an element of reconciliation but it goes to show that things aren't as simple as they seem - infact far from it, thats the whole story in a sense, that she has had to live quite a frustrating and complicated life, I suppose, where things certainly can't be taken for granted and in a sense perhaps her somewhat over the top behaviour can be excused in part for that.
This is a somewhat upsetting movie in a sense, or perhaps unnerving is a better way to word it, in a few scenes and the one that really comes to mind personally that will have, no doubt, led to different opinions and is a real talking piece (is that a phrase, I think so?) is one particular scene between Beverley and her best friend Fay (who end up both having children, once Beverley found out about her pregnancy (which she discovers on a pivotal day btw) which was before she'd given birth herself, she was really excited exclaiming that they'd both have girls they'd raise together and who would be 'just like us!' out of naivety/blind optimism mainly I'd say) as their sitting in the back garden and Beverley confides in Fay that she feels like the worlds worst mother because she doubts her love for her child and questions herself, like what kind of a normal person would feel this way, what is wrong with me? to which Fay replies, quite quickly, with a really nice analogy to explain these feelings away, which I found quite touching. Its certainly not surprising that she would suffer some degree of post natal depression given her situation, indeed she tries to get out of marrying her husband Ray who, its clear from close to the start of the movie, she knows in her heart isn't who she's really meant to be with but being the 1960s and society being as it was, her family and particularly her father wouldn't hear of her being pregnant and not married, so her wish to have her child out of wedlock was simply not an option. So yes, this is far from a happy Hollywood tale and its not a movie whereby you have the main character striving for something and then you get everything sorted out and the usual Hollywood ending to end it all. Thats not to say that there isn't anything positive that comes out from this movie storywise, its really quite bittersweet though, I'd say. By the end of the movie, Beverley, Jason and us as viewers discover things which make us re-evaluate certain things but I couldn't say that its either a happy nor an entirely sad ending, to be honest.
The title of the movie accounts for the first few scenes, set during a high school party where Beverley is made fun of by one of the popular 'jock's and she gets Ray to defend her, then it ends up with them and a couple of others in said car where presumably Jason is conceived. I suppose the title symbolises or highlights how such a seemingly harmless 'activity' started a rather downward cycle. There are, as well as this, other scenes of importance which feature key conversations between Beverley and Jason and back in the 1960s between Beverley and her father which are held in cars, so I suppose thats where the title comes from, it links back to that.
I felt that Drew Barrymore gave a really good performance in her role as Beverley, her facial expressions and mannerisms being very convincing and it really is difficult to not get drawn into her world - I felt it was quite an absorbing movie, with many different, interesting characters and a story that while rather sad and frustrating, you as a viewer still feel intrigued to keep watching just to see how the movie ends and what type of an outcome it gives you. Due to this, I'm giving it a five star rating, although this isn't to say that its a movie everyone will love as such but I think that its well made and if you know much about the story and/or the book its based on, it wouldn't be too fair to mark it down due to being a bit negative or depressing, if it wasn't then it wouldn't make sense, if you see what I mean.
I should point out that the late Brittany Murphy stars as Beverley's best friend Fay - when I realised it was her, I did think there was something a little poignant about this, some sad poignancy about her portraying an optimistic young woman who was in a similarly depressing situation and who in a sense you could argue had her childhood and bright future cut short, when the actress playing her only recently (about a year or so if I remember right) died at a young age - sad. I think Fay was more happy than Beverley, she did give birth to a girl like she wanted but then its hard to know how she and some others truly feel, given that there's clearly that message of grin and bear it and don't complain, people will look at you badly if you do.
Ray is, of course, the other key character in this movie, being portrayed by Steve Zahn, who is perhaps more well known for his roles in action/comedy movies, so I was a little surprised to find it was him playing such a serious role in a movie such as this (mind you, the action/comedy movies mainly came after this movie was made (in 2001) I suppose). He also gives a good performance as someone who seems to be very much in love with Beverley and optimistic and does his best to provide for her but in time things change and I think thats mainly down to the way that society was (a bit apathetic towards women and family life perhaps) at that time and then as the movie continues to progress, things take another turn and his personality changes. I won't go into much if any detail really as I feel I'm mentioning enough of the plot as it is and I wouldn't like to accidentally spoil the movie, though I don't feel that I've quite done that yet but suffice to say, another good performance is given by Steve.
This is a long movie at just over two hours long and if your a very fidgety person that gets bored particularly quickly then it may not be for you but I wouldn't say that I felt really bored at any point or that I felt it dragged on far too long, so clearly it was quite well made to keep my interest right to the end - I can be quite fidgety and lose interest in some movies but this wasn't so much of a problem in this particular movie.
- Would I Recommend It? -
Yes, if this sounds like a movie that would interest you then I'd definitely recommend that you check it out, particularly if your a Drew Barrymore fan. Its a well made movie, with a story which while rather frustrating and depressing, is well depicted and ends in a way which isn't entirely positive or negative I feel, so its up to you what you take from it - I don't feel like its too 'Hollywood' and its not the sort of movie that you should walk away from feeling suicidal or anything like that either - I think its fair to say that this movie depicts a time when women had less freedom and choice and so you could say that it carries a message and that its a movie that perhaps young women should watch to realise how lucky we are nowadays that young mothers have more support and are more likely to get further in life.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you found it useful (and that you don't feel I gave away the entire story - there are definitely other key scenes I haven't mentioned, its a long movie). Thanks for any and all r/r/c's, this review was originally posted on Ciao UK.
Summary: A true story about a young womans life after becoming pregnant as a teen in the early 60s