If there’s one thing that nearly every one of us remembers it’s the first time we drove a car. The excitement, the nervousness, the stress, the freedom of sitting in the driver’s seat and gripping the wheel. Think back to your driver’s exam and try to remember how awkward and uncomfortable that moment was, now transplant yourself into a foreign country and add in a language barrier. And Who Taught You To Drive explores that exact scenario by following three individuals trying to get a license in a country they are not originally from.
The film floats between Jake, an American in Japan, Mirela, a German in India, and Hye-Won, a Korean in Germany. All three have their own reasons for needing a license in their new country, but they all must go through the same rigorous, and sometimes ridiculous, lessons and tests.
Though I wouldn’t be caught dead attempting to navigate the busy streets of Mumbai, and in fact, I don’t like driving in my own city, there is something to admire about these people. Even though it seems like a pointless endeavor, they all stay the course and show an incredible amount of determination.
Along the way, the film explores the personal lives of the three, who all come from very different backgrounds, but all having very endearing and likable qualities to them. Each character is a joy to watch on screen and we feel as much a fish out of water as they do. We spend almost as much screen time learning about the main characters themselves as the scenes of driving which help build a greater rapport with them.
Obviously one of the main focuses of the film is the actual driving procedures and protocols for each country. Though the act of driving is similar, with the exception of driving in the opposite lane, the testing appears more rigorous and complicated than here in the States. The environment is also quite different than most cities here and nothing looks more awful than driving in India.
When documentaries take place in other countries and explore different cultures it’s always fascinating, and the way this film shows different cultures through the act of learning to drive is incredibly compelling and entertaining.
And Who Taught You To Drive is a light, fun documentary that will make you feel nostalgic about your first time behind the wheel and make you glad you never had to learn in any of these cities. My biggest stress inducer when taking my test was parallel parking, I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I had to drive the Autobahn but it would probably involve several nervous breakdowns.