Driving Not Knowing is primarily about relationships: romantic relationships, friendships, and the relationship you have with yourself. Lee (Jay Jadick) is a poet, and lives with musician Will (Dane Mainella). They collaborate on various projects, but ultimately their toxic relationship (filled with ambiguity and sexual flirtation) comes to a startling halt when Will moves from Philadelphia to rural Pennsylvania. A year later, Lee accepts Will’s invitation, and along with their close friend Jo (Emily Rea), they make their way into the mountains for a weekend. Lee struggles to decipher between his repressed feelings for Will and his hurt feelings, while Will seems preoccupied with drugs and stealing from the beer store he works for. The two navigate through a weekend of fighting, drinking, poetry, music, and reconciliation.
The strongest aspect of Driving Not Knowing is its cinematography. The filmmakers have a wonderful sensibility in capturing the difference between the sterile aspects of the city, and the gorgeous open spaces of the country, and translating those perceptions into a defined mood that permeates the film. In fact, the structure is so closely rooted in the abstract ideas of subjective experience and mood, that the film tends to come across as underdeveloped in other areas. The film should most likely be viewed through an impressionistic lens, so its quieter moments can truly shine.
While the film largely exists as a meditation on cinematic atmosphere, what it lacks is substantial characterization. While you can certainly relate to the characters’ various plights throughout (mainly coping with toxic love), there seems to be something missing. While relatability is an important quality, perhaps stronger writing and more developed characters would have aided the film’s deeper narrative themes.
Driving Not Knowing has its Philadelphia premiere at PhilaMOCA this Sunday, December 6. Event information and ticket sales here.
Author: Catherine Haas
Catherine Haas is a native Philadelphian who received her master’s in film history from Columbia University. She is a freelance film programmer, writer, and an avid pug enthusiast.