review by casey
“driving home 2 u” is a Disney+ original documentary following the making of Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album Sour. Directed by Stacey Lee and produced by Interscope Films, this film is anything but sour. This is not a documentary about her life and career thus far, more of a video scrapbook of her debut album put to music.
The entire film is shot with a film grain texture, playing on the “home video” vibe that Olivia Rodrigo so often includes in her videos and music.
I would even go so far to argue that her brand is “sleepover-core” (with carefully placed stickers of butterflies and smiley places on top.) It feels like a love letter to who Rodrigo was before Driver’s License was released and she became a pop superstar overnight.
As a fan of music, I felt a sense of pride watching her and her producer Dan Nigro curate these songs and show a safe place for musicians and artists to express themselves.
Sour so perfectly spoke to my teenage self and the angst and emotion I never let out.
That’s what they [the songs] do, the narrative they created, and the reason so many people latched on to eighteen-year-old Olivia last January and have yet to let go.
“My entire life just shifted in an instant,” she tells the New York Times in an interview featured in the film.
“driving home 2 u” opens up with a compilation of moments after “Driver’s License” was released, her debut single as an artist. Automatically, the tone of the film is set and the whirlwind of popularity and fame is shown.
It all begins with the story.
As we follow Rodrigo on a road trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, where the artist wrote most of the album and filmed her Disney+ original series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, we are swept up in the making of each song.
Video footage from the writing and recording process accompanies Olivia Rodrigo’s voice-over explaining her intentions for each song. As an audience, we can learn the meaning of each line and put into perspective the songs we’ve been singing for the last year. This experience is captured in such a raw, candid way that you feel a part of her story like you’ve gone on this same trip hundreds of times before.
We get to hear her read direct passages from her journal about getting her driver’s license, listen to early demos, and quite literally watch her and Dan Nigro write “Brutal” on the spot.
“When you love a person so much and you spend so much time with them like that’s who you feel at most home with.” – about writing the second verse in “driver’s license”
When introducing “one step forward, three steps back”, we find ourselves in a hotel room listening to an early demo of the track that she recorded in the car on the way to Salt Lake City. She laughs, “I just wrote this song actually the day before this guy broke up with me.”
Olivia also talks about her perfectionist tendencies and how they’ve only gotten worse since growing up in the spotlight. “Being a child actor where you’re constantly being told everything you do is amazing. I literally did the bare minimum and they’re like ‘AH! You’re a star.’ I was honestly really disillusioned from that from a very young age.”
Just 5 days before the tracklist for Sour needs to be delivered, Olivia expresses that she wants one more upbeat song for the album, but can’t decide between anything she’s previously written. The next clip shows Dan Nigro messing around on the guitar and Rodrigo adlibbing overtop, “it’d be cool to have a song called brutal.”
I actually can’t imagine not having this song on the album.
coming from this place of hurt and devisation and you manage to turn it into something that you’re proud of and something pther people can enjoy and something that brings acceptance and light and joy into the world, there’s nothing better than that.olivia rodrigo – driving home 2 u: a sour film
Before hearing the making of each song, a new live version is performed with Rodrigo’s band. The cinematography of these performances alone is a good enough reason to watch the film. Olivia can be found performing “Jealousy, Jealousy” under a highway and “hope ur ok” on a beach.
The highlight for me was hearing her sing “Favorite Crime” accapella before joining her band.
Overall, this documentary was wonderfully made and perfect for any fan of music or film, regardless of if you are an Olivia Rodrigo fan or not.
The album may be about a breakup, but the film is about growth and working to make your dreams a reality.
driving home 2 u is streaming now on Disney+