United States – 1990
Director – John Gazarian
PM Home Video, 1992, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 30ish minutes
John Gazarian’s only film Driven To Kill (okay, he did write one other) is heavily laden with meaning. The plot concerns a husband and wife, Harry and Vivian with the full range of marital problems. After sleeping with another man in large part due to Harry’s alcoholic inattentiveness, Vivian has decided to take Harry to Vegas and get him laid. I guess the plan was to assuage her guilt and his anger, to try and wipe the slate clean, or at the very least level the playing field. It is here, during the happy couple’s drive across the Nevada desert in a wood paneled station wagon that the metaphorical layers, both explicit and implicit in the films title, begin to peel away.
But it gets even better. As a white heterosexual middle-class male, Harry is the real victim. Not only is he captured, threatened with death, beaten and shot at after escaping, but he also suffers under the unceasing and emasculating attack of Vivian’s rebellion, he is literally the paradigm of U.S. American normalcy persecuted from all sides. Making Harry a dentist offers more than an opportunity to write a few shitty jokes, it puts him in a respectable but potentially vulnerable social niche. His status is one from which he has been symbolically driven (his alcoholism is a loss of dignity and self-responsibility) by “Others” and from whom he must seek to reclaim it for rest of the film.
WASP male for whom, as we now know, life just isn’t fair.
A shorter version of this review appeared in Paracinema Magazine # 10.