Driver 23, Where Are You?

Low-budget documentary about a deliveryman and wanna-be rock star takes some wrong turns

Driver 23 is especially frustrating in the way it deals with the off-camera breakup of Cleveland's marriage to Shelly, an intelligent and empathetic but not infinitely patient woman who works as -- no kidding! -- a clown. He's white, and she's African-American. That nothing is made of this is no big deal. (It's worth noting, though, that her race isn't immediately apparent; the first two or three times we see her she's wearing white makeup.) What is a big deal is Belgum's refusal, or failure, to give us any sense of the dynamics of the marriage, to clarify why she moves away to California or what she will do once she gets there. She refers in passing to greater employment opportunities on the West Coast, leaving us to wonder: Is she going to work for a circus? Or is clowning just a temporary gig, something to do to make ends meet until she lands a job she has been trained to do? If the latter, well, what exactly is that job?

Yes, I know: There is only so much ground you can cover in a 73-minute documentary. But hey, who said the movie had to be that short? And why not spend the brief time to more illuminating purposes? Ultimately Driver 23 comes across as a textbook example of a film that deserved to be made by another, better filmmaker.

Messiah complex: Musically challenged Dan Cleveland wants to be a rock god.
Shut Up Entertainment
Messiah complex: Musically challenged Dan Cleveland wants to be a rock god.


No MPAA rating
Houston premiere Friday and Saturday, June 9 and 10, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet

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