DriverX is mandatory viewing for anyone who’s ever used an Uber or Lyft, a brutally realistic take that feels almost like a documentary rather than fiction.
This review contains minor spoilers from DriverX.
DriverX fully immerses the audience behind the wheel, examining the faceless lifestyle of drivers known primarily by their user ratings and the circumstances that led to offering rideshares in their personal vehicles. At the same time, DriverX shares a dually powerful narrative rarely spoken about these days, the end of the record store, or CD store, depending how you look at it. Lead character Leonard played by Better Call Saul’s Patrick Fabian runs a place named The Last Record Store akin to a family owned Tower Records, prior to being forced to close, a business he once thought would be the legacy to his children.
When Leonard and his wife Dawn (Tanya Clarke) fall on hard financial times, he decides to sell his priceless record collection. Leonard believes the collection will fetch upwards of $15,000 and at least $10,000 minimum, only to be told it’s worth $800 dollars at best. That despite their condition, his pristine records are just coasters to most people now. Leonard is accompanied by his two daughters at the time, and the record store owner decides to offer $850 since they’re “well behaved” in reality feeling sorry for Leonard. It’s a heartbreaking scene masterfully acted by Fabian, to know his life’s work is worth just $850 dollars, that he’s been outdated as a person.
Throughout the film, Leonard is recognized for a matchmaking talent connecting people to music, despite no longer being able to make it a career. One of the moments that cuts deep the most is a when a rider recognizes Leonard as the manager of his previous career. Though he is giving a compliment, it instantly reminds Leonard those days are over. At the onset of DriverX, it’s clear Leonard no longer knows where he fits into current society when he takes a job interview at a youthful music startup, sensing immediately he’s older than everyone else working there.
As his wife badgers him to get a job and his own young daughter tells him, “I wish I could be a dad, then I wouldn’t have to work like mom,” you can see the pain on Leonard’s face. After desperate research he finds DriverX and is approved for the job without an interview or ever meeting anyone in-person — a fact his wife finds strange.
He would soon learn the pros and cons of ridesharing and outright entitlement by millennials. His first rider criticizes him immediately for not arriving on time and making a mistake, using his phone’s GPS while holding it to drive and though he adjusts, he soon learns his user star rating has tanked. Two riders inform him they almost didn’t ride with him at all because of his low rating and inform Leonard he needs water bottles and a phone charger in the back.
At times his drunk riders treat Leonard as nothing more than a minor inconvenience or question “why he even does it” when he’s unable to take a tip per policy. They’re not necessarily wrong on asking either, considering Leonard brings in $35 dollars after his first night and it doesn’t get much better afterwards. Leonard falls asleep in his car in the film, reminding how important it is not too work too late. At one point a drunk girl vomits in his car and shortly afterwards he accidentally reverses into a fire hydrant causing damage to his vehicle. Since the ride had ended, DriverX’s insurance does not cover it.
It’s not all doom and gloom however, Leonard is able to reconnect to youth in a way he would have never been able to otherwise, makes a lifetime friend in Tom (Desmin Borges) and meets temptation amidst a sliding marriage.
On his very first night, a girl who had just broken up with her boyfriend attempts to get him to sleep with her. It seems Leonard simply freezes up but many other opportunities arise. Eventually, Leonard gives in at the end of the film with band member Nina (Nina Senicar), not necessarily to full on explicit cheating but enough to tease the idea he’s considering a different life. His wife’s twenty text messages the next morning, however, as Nina flies back to her country after the night, remind him who truly cares about him and he returns home to his family.
There’s simply so much good stuff that’ll leave you thinking for days afterwards in DriverX. His friend’s advice to follow every sentence in an argument with “but I love you,” being one of them. The power of that line is immeasurable despite his wife noticing a pattern to the tactic.
DriverX is quite reminiscent of the excellent The Founder film on McDonalds in that the narrative stays with you way past the credit roll. After all, ridesharing is a modern convenience most of us use at some point, it’s inescapable to not think back to this film after first view. Like Leonard tells his wife, “It didn’t feel right at first to have strangers riding in our car but I got used to it.”
DriverX is a must-watch exploring the themes of feeling phased out by technology while simultaneously embracing it, financial hard times straining a marriage and the end of the physical music industry. Fantastic work by the team of director/writer Henry Barrial and star Patrick Fabian for IFC Films. The concept of DriverX simply feels fresh and modern, a post-movie talking piece.
DriverX is in theaters now, check out IFCFilms.com for more info on the film. New York locals can check out DriverX over at the IFC Center, where tonight (11/30) actors Desmin Borges, Ariana Basseri, and musical performer Helen Rose will be doing a Q and A with the audience for the 7:35 p.m. showing.