DRIVE MY CAR gets 7.5/10 A leisurely cruise

Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Starring Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tōko Miura, Masaki Okada


As is clear from the film’s three hour runtime, this is certainly a film that is patient with establishing itself. And although it may seem like the film is lacking an emotional release with the tragedy and its unemotional response in the prologue, many of the pieces of this film start to come together by the end.

For such a long and involved film, the story is fairly simple. Following a death in the family, theatre director Yūsuke (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is hired to work on a multilingual adaptation of Uncle Vanya, so he travels to Hiroshima where the production is taking place, sorting through auditions and rehearsals for the next two months. But, inconveniently for Yūsuke, he is not allowed to drive his own car during this time, due to a car accident that occurred with a previous theatre director. So Misaki (Tōko Miura) is hired to drive him around wherever he needs to go, sometimes rehearsing, though eventually moving further into conversations.

Drive My Car is (eventually) a tale about grief, even if a kind of grief troubled by the lives of the deceased. The way this story is interwoven with and around the Uncle Vanya production is done incredibly well, linking these two works of fiction with an emotional connection rather than a more literal one, with some of these moments of rehearsal and stage time making up some of the best and most well acted moments of the film.

It’s quite the restrained and understated film, not showcasing too much emotion until maybe a couple of hours in. But the framing of some of the eventual emotional release isn’t put forward in the best way. They take place in some stunning scenery, but it’s staged like a soap opera, with characters facing away from the character they’re talking to, divulging a long monologue that discloses their emotional backstory.

Although it doesn’t quite land when it eventually goes to, Drive My Car still concludes as a very fine drama, one with a hell of a lot of patience and the dedication to go with it. The film has gotten huge praise and recently even been nominated for four Oscars (not bad, for a foreign film), which is telling of a film like this that ought to be given a go.


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