Move over Baby Driver, as the Lady Driver movie has just landed on the Netflix streaming service. This follows a rebellious teenage girl as she aims to become a top driver in the notoriously male-dominated dirt racing world.
Lady Driver was released on Netflix on 2 May 2020. The film was directed by Shaun Paul Piccinino and starred Grace Van Dien (The Village, The Bad Twin) as Ellie Lansing – the teenager who has to overcome familial pressures and sexism to succeed against the odds as a race-car driver.
Movies and video games with high-octane action have proven to be immensely popular over the years. From acclaimed documentaries like the Asif Kapadia-directed Senna, to successful racing game franchises like Need for Speed and Gran Turismo, the fast-paced action has been keeping people entertained for decades. The popularity of the high-octane games persists across other industries as well. It’s very common in iGaming, where brands like the 888casino feature a number of high-octane racing slots titles like Drive: Mayhem and Hotline.
So let’s see whether Lady Driver will be able to live up to such formidable standards?
First and foremost, this is not a film that you’ll want to watch if you are a serious gearhead. While there are some nice shots of the Petaluma Speedway in California, it’s more about the personal development of Ellie Lansing. As a result we get to see the interpersonal dynamics between Lansing and her uncle Time Lansing, played by Sean Patrick Flanery (Saw: The Final Chapter).
Ellie attempts to escape her boring hometown as soon as she gets her driving license. But after her stolen car breaks down, she ends up staying with her uncle and gets involved in the dirt racing scene.
What could end up being a cloying family drama is given a good dose of realism thanks to cameo appearances by famous dirt race drivers such as Bobby Pierce. There are also decent performances from the likes of Christina Moore (That ‘70s Show) as Ellie’s mother who is at first fiercely opposed to her daughter’s involvement in dirt racing, but grows to be supportive of her child’s unorthodox ambitions.
Like many sporting movies, Lady Driver follows a fairly predictable path – the outsider who manages to go against the odds to defy the critics and succeed in a particular sporting event. It’s a concept that’s dangerously close to becoming cliched, but thankfully Lady Driver has been made with enough skill and heart to stop it getting too obvious.
Much of this is down to the skill of director Shaun Paul Piccinino (Roped) who gets some great performances from the actors, and the actual footage of the speedway track is suitably high-octane. A recent interview with Piccinino revealed a strong on-set chemistry between the cast and this is evident in the warm-hearted movie.
But ultimately, this movie is all about one teenage girl’s fierce determination to succeed in a male-dominated world. We have to commend Netflix for releasing another film that takes on sexism in the 21st century. Even some recent releases like the revamped She-Ra animations have diverse heroes that are depicted beyond standard boundaries of gender, sexuality and race, and it’s a theme that gives Lady Driver a timely resonance.
Lady Driver features the acting talents of Grace Van Dien as Ellie Lansing, Sean Patrick Flanery as Tim Lansing, Christina Moore as Jessie Lansing Dickson, Casper Van Dien as Elliot Lansing, Amanda Detmer as Loretta, John Ducey as Vance Dickson, Matthew Joel Kranyak as Merle, David Gridley as Buck McCreadie, Cameron McKendry as Chad, Seth Meriwether as Kenny and Christopher Michael Holley as Mr. Hicks.
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