From writer and director Ethan Coen comes a coming-of-age comedy with a difference! Taking a break from his usual film-making partnership with his brother Joel, Coen has instead joined forces with his wife and long-time collaborator Tricia Cooke, (whose queer identity and personal experiences within the queer community at the time the film is set suggests a heavier involvement in the authorship) to bring us a modern-day Thelma and Louise.

Set at the tail end of the 20th century as the millennium beckons and Y2K looms, this comedy caper follows sex-obsessed, free spirit Jamie (Margaret Qualley), who’s in search of adventure after a messy breakup with her cop girlfriend, Sukie (a very funny Beanie Feldstein), and her straight-laced friend Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan).

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

In search of a fresh start, the friends embark on an impromptu road trip to Tallahassee, where they are set to meet up with Marian’s aunt, but things quickly take a sour turn when they discover their rental car contains hidden cargo intended for use as blackmail and they are pursued by a double act of somewhat inept hit-men (think Home Alone) each step of the way.

While the plot is somewhat formulaic and predictable (road-trip montage full of plenty of banter and recognizable landmarks), Qualley and Viswanathan are eminently likeable and talented actors and their appealing ‘unlikely couple’ chemistry helps tell a genuinely believable and sweet ‘friends to lovers’ story.

Despite its occasionally erratic execution, with deliberately, overly cheesy scene transitions and the direction perhaps a little lacking compared to Coen’s usual standards, the authenticity of this relationship elevates Drive-Away Dolls beyond its quirky comedy status.

It goes without saying that Drive-Away Dolls has some laughs, but many of them are rooted in sexual innuendo, and multiple (arguably gratuitous after a while) sex scenes, which may put off the more sensitive viewer!

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

However, one has to mostly forgive the dialogue, full of suggestive turns of phrase, philosophical musings turned horny and euphemisms, since the film is in essence very much about sex and sexual freedom, right down to the admittedly hilarious and unexpected reveal of the precious cargo and the appearance of Matt Damon as a conservative congressman attempting to avoid a scandal.

A big inspiration for the story may have been Dr Strangelove, which first theorised that governments, and the ideologies driving them, all stem from the neurotic sexual behaviour of resentful, insecure men. We can’t help but be glad the proceeds of blackmail, set to fall in to the hands of yet more powerful and ruthless men, go to our heroines instead!

Drive-Away Dolls is in cinemas now.