‘Drive-Away Dolls’ Review: The Coen Brothers Unpack Their Quirky Masterpiece

Joel and Ethan Coen have been known throughout their filmmaking journey for an almost telepathic connection, often providing identical responses to queries even when asked independently. Aptly nicknamed “the two-headed director,” their projects hint at a surgical division of a shared creative mind.

Their recent hiatus, amidst rumours of their return to collaborate on a horror venture, has unveiled a divergence in style. Joel’s brooding rendition of Macbeth stripped away levity and colour, while Ethan’s road comedy, ‘Drive-Away Dolls,’ emerges as a whimsical departure in their collective repertoire.

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Drive-Away Dolls Review
Image Courtesy: Variety

In ‘Drive-Away Dolls,’ Ethan, alongside co-writer Tricia Cooke, taps into a lighter vein, steering the narrative towards playful, sophomoric themes. The film orchestrates a quirky narrative, blending familiar Coen-esque elements with a fresh, comedic twist.

Amidst the antics, Ethan infuses the story with subtle commentary, setting the escapade against the backdrop of Y2K hysteria and a shifting political landscape. The film’s irreverent humour and unexpected warmth add depth to its seemingly frivolous premise, challenging the notion of a detached, ironic narrative.

‘Drive-Away Dolls’ marks a departure from the Coenverse’s archness, dialling down the cerebral references in favour of a more accessible, humour-driven approach. The dialogue retains its trademark Coen flair, rich in absurdity and philosophical undertones, albeit now centred around euphemisms for pleasure.

Drive-Away Dolls Review
Image Courtesy: NBC

While the film embraces a lighter tone, it sacrifices some of the Coen brothers’ trademark directorial precision. However, moments of visual poignancy, such as a lingering shot of swimming pool light, hint at an evolving visual language.

With ‘Drive-Away Dolls,’ Ethan Coen embarks on a joyous exploration, shedding the weight of seriousness without compromising substance. It’s a testament to his capacity to find pleasure in the creative process, evolving his craft while retaining the essence of Coen humour.