Driving Mum


It’s becoming abundantly clear that Iceland is one of the most cinematic locales in the world. It’s no wonder then that shows such as Game of Thrones and the recent True Detectives, and films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Fast & Furious 8 and Thor: The Dark World have all shot there.

Thankfully it’s not reserved for only the likes of Hollywood to shoot there, with a number of native talent managing to make films on their home turf, such as 2022’s Godland, directed by Hlynur Pálmason, and now this stunning feature.

boom reviews Driving Mum
the Icelandic knitting industry was more productive than many would think.

It’s 1980, and living in a remote part of western Iceland is Jón (Ţröstur Leó Gunnarsson), along with his mother (Kristbjörg Kjeld) and his faithful dog Brezhnev. Their home is so remote that they can’t even get a radio signal, having to rely on audio tapes being shipped to them in order to have some entertainment.

At one point, whilst the pair knit, his mother discusses her plans for when she dies, and that she wants to be buried – not cremated – on the southern part of the island.

Jón just ignores her, but something happens that makes him take her more seriously, so he decides that the three of them should embark on a road trip.

So off they set, in his aging car, where he has to put up with his mother’s barbed comments, which is somewhat unusual as she is now very much dead.

boom reviews Driving Mum
I've told you before, I'm not driving an inch further if you put Coldplay on!!!

It must be a director’s wet dream to live and work in Iceland, as you can literally drop your camera anywhere and just capture the dramatic landscape all around.

Hilmar Oddsson manages to magnify this experience by shooting in black and white, which only enhances the surrounding stark beauty.

And although it’s fair to say that the vistas on show do a lot of the heavy lifting for the film, Oddsson’s script, much like his use of black and white, does its bit to improve it just that little bit more, with some darkness of its own on the humour front.

It’s a story that looks at many relationships: that of Jón with his mother, that with his trusty canine pet, that with his car, with the people he meets along the way, as well as with his past and the one he shares with his atmospheric locale.

It is dark, touching, whimsical as well as being starkly beautiful. It’s one of those road trips where you’re not exactly sure where it’s going, or how it’s going to get there, but it’s difficult not to get swept up in the mystical magic of it all.

In a sense it is a retelling of Charon the ferryman, the Greek, mythological character, who transported the dead to Hades. But instead of a ferry, Jón drives his dead mother in his Ford Cortina to her final resting place.

Gunnarsson gives an incredible performance, especially considering that he’s in virtually every scene of the film. But it’s Oddsson’s direction and wonderful script, that make Driving Mum a must-see road trip flick. It’s melancholic nature is a thing of splendour that just makes you thankful for being along for the ride.

And if you haven’t already, it’s only likely to make you fall in love with Iceland that little bit more.

we give this four out of five