Dan Karlok’s devastating short drama The Drive proves that you don’t need a large budget, or a lengthy running time for that matter, to create a truly affecting cinematic piece. The writer-director manages to speak volumes in just 14 minutes, setting his two-character plot entirely inside a car. His story starts off one way, then reveals layers, and ultimately makes the viewer reevaluate everything they’ve witnessed.
A father (Dan Karlok) picks up his son (Quinn Karlok) from college. The dad desperately attempts to reconnect. “So, how are finals?” he asks. “Good,” comes the response from the apathetic young man, who’s busy scrolling through his phone. When condoms are brought up, the son groans, “I’m not in fifth grade. I know how sex works.”
They discuss music, booze and pot. They reminisce about the old days. Towards the end, the son even seems to warm to his old man. But then something happens, and the film becomes a poignant treatise on grief and nostalgia.
When examining generational differences, Karlok gets the details right. The father’s attempts at rapping are truly cringe-worthy. His desperation borders on annoying (purposefully so), as he dismisses his boy’s explanation for why his hip-hop music matters to him. Aside from the gem of a finale, which puts these small nuances in perspective, Karlok touches upon the current ADD-addled Gen Z, whose lives seem to constantly be on shuffle.
The fact that the two actors are father and son in real life adds not only pathos, but also a natural camaraderie to the proceedings, which is crucial for this story to work. They buoy this singular little film, which proves the old adage that “less is more”.