‘Drive-Away Dolls’ is a Fun, Quirky Caper With no Shortage of Star Power

Synopsis: Jamie regrets her breakup with her girlfriend, while Marian needs to relax. In search of a fresh start, they embark on an unexpected road trip to Tallahassee. Things quickly go awry when they cross paths with a group of inept criminals.
Director: Ethan Coen
Stars: Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Colman Domingo

Margaret Qualley has been assembling a strong acting resumé filled with interesting characters, and her role in Drive-Away Dolls adds to it. In the film, she portrays Jamie (Margaret Qualley), who is a free spirit and a womanizer. Her character reminds us that women can be just as hot-to-trot as men. She is caught cheating on her girlfriend (Beanie Feldstein), which leads to their breakup.

Jamie is a fast-talker from Texas who also has confidence many will envy. This is on display when she enters a lesbian bar and has command over the patrons without saying a word. Her good friend Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) is also a lesbian but more reserved. She is also dealing with a breakup, but one that is a lot less dramatic.

Marian decides it’s time to leave town and head to Florida. The two women get a drive-away car — a service that matches drivers with vehicles that require one-way trips to specific destinations.

It turns out they are mistakenly given a car promised to a couple of baddies. What they don’t know is that there are some important contents in the trunk.

The baddies are The Chief (Colman Domingo) and his two goons, Flint (C.J. Wilson) and Arliss (Joey Slotnick).

The Chief orders the goons to track down the young women and retrieve the belongings from the car’s trunk. Flint chooses violence first, while Arliss tries a more tactful approach.

Drive-Away Dolls has no shortage of star power, but Qualley and Viswanathan make the movie shine. Their performances are believable and oddly sweet as they are transformed into an unlikely dynamic cinematic duo. Jamie can seamlessly talk herself out of any situation . . . or into anyone’s bed, while Marian is a thinker and is more practical. The two are so different, but their friendship works.

Colman Domingo . . . excuse me, Academy Award nominee Colman Domingo can appear menacing in films. His character in the recent adaptation of The Color Purple was dastardly, and he was terrifying in Zola. As the baddie in Drive-Away Dolls, he portrays more of an understated villain. The role is not meant to be terrifying, and it is not.

The movie is written by Ethan Coen and his spouse, Tricia Cooke, who is a lesbian. As you get your head around that, understand that this film doesn’t just lean in on a lesbian narrative; it kicks down the door. We are brought into that world, and the journey for this reviewer was a welcome one. As a big fan of The L Word, nothing about this film surprised me except how much I enjoyed it.

There are some fun twists and turns. One of the items in the trunk is a briefcase, and while it doesn’t carry the same mystique as the one in Pulp Fiction, it’s a fun prop in the film.

Drive-Away Dolls is short at 84 minutes, and about five to ten minutes of that is credits. Could it have been longer? Not necessarily. It is crafted to be a caper movie, and it is one that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Drive-Away Dolls is a fun, quirky movie with interesting characters.

Grade: B-

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