Movie review: Drive my car (2021)

According to the director of Drive my car (2021), Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, the car“is a place where intimate conversations take place that are only born in this closed and moving space”. It is clear that for the director this vehicle is the perfect thread to narrate a story. But the viewer is not going to find a road movie, definitely not. Drive my car is an adaptation of one of the short stories included in Men Without Women, the work of the prestigious writer Haruki Murakami, published in 2014 and perennial candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature. The film has already won the Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival and the Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Foreign Language Film. It also has four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

Drive my car: reflections on life on the road

It is astonishing how the director, starting from a short story, is able to give the viewer 179 minutes of footage. It must also be said that the film also contains allusions to other stories in Murakami’s oeuvre. That this is a good film is beyond dispute. The performances, the photography, the soundtrack, are outstandingly credible and beautiful, but what the director perhaps fails to do is to drag out a story that could have been told in fewer minutes or at a more agile pace.

Nevertheless, Drive my car is still an intelligent work capable of portraying the complexity of human relationships. The film deals with themes such as infidelity, overcoming the death of a child, relationships, the feeling of emptiness when we lose a loved one, as well as the fear of loneliness and second chances. A journey into the human soul. All from conversations and long silences.

Love, loss, grief and isolation

Yasuke Kafaku (Hidetishi Nishijima), an actor and theatre director, agrees to embark on the play “Uncle Vanya” (by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, published in 1899) at a festival in Hiroshima. As a rule, he has to accept the imposition of a private chauffeur to pick him up every day and take him home. For this task he is assigned Misaki, a very reserved young woman. Both of them have personal dramas. Although at first, the basis of their relationship is a lack of communication, as the journeys go by, sincerity grows in their conversations. These journeys end up becoming a therapy about love and loss in which both are forced to reflect on their future life by confronting their past. During the car journeys, the wounds and scars of the protagonists will emerge, real as life itself, narrated in a subtle, delicate and beautiful way.

My personal review

All in all, a good, profoundly beautiful film that could perhaps have been made even better with a shorter running time and a faster pace. Not suitable for film buffs unaccustomed to the leisurely pace of oriental cinema. But recommended for lovers of poetic and profound cinema.

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