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Drive-Away Dolls is one of the oddest genre mash-ups I have ever seen: a barely watchable, unpleasant mix between an uninspired crime thriller and a lurid, voyeuristic lesbian softcore porn flick.

A little over two years ago Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth proved that the Coen brothers could deliver striking films even when just one sibling was involved. Drive-Away Dolls, Ethan Coen’s solo narrative debut, makes clear that they’re just as capable of serving up utter tripe.

At first, the picture appears to have all the ingredients needed for a typical Coen crime comedy: oddball characters, a criminal exchange gone wrong, even that recognisable Carter Burwell music to underscore the action. But boy do things go off the rails quickly.

With softcore lesbian sex scattered throughout the picture and a suitcase filled with dildos being a major plot point, Drive-Away Dolls ever more starts to resemble a poorly executed, woefully unfunny, sex-obsessed student project with each passing minute.

The mix is not only odd, it is distracting, it is ill-begotten and it is painful to watch, despite a cast that includes usually reliable performers like Margaret Qualley, Beanie Feldstein, Colman Domingo and (in very, very short cameos) Pedro Pascal and Matt Damon.

So whatever happened that temporarily drove Ethan and Joel Coen apart, here’s hoping they patch things up quickly in order to save us another bona fide worst-of-the-year contender like Drive-Away Dolls.

release: 2024

director: Ethan Coen

starring: Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Beanie Feldstein, Colman Domingo


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