Drive My Car is a 2021 Japanese drama film co-written and directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. It is primarily based on Haruki Murakami’s short story of the same name from his 2014 short story collection Men Without Women while taking inspiration from other stories in it. Besides Drive My Car, Hamaguchi directed the anthology Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, also released in 2021.
The premise of Drive My Car is as follows: After his wife’s unexpected death, Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) , a renowned stage actor and director, receives an offer to direct a production of Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima. There, he begins to face the haunting mysteries his wife left behind. (IMDb)
What truly stands out most about Drive My Car – besides its almost 3 hours duration – is the excellent writing of Hamaguchi and co-writer Takamasa Oe. The dialogue on this movie is simply top notch – the manner in which it twists and turns, the way in which the balance of power shifts and the hidden secrets that are slowly revealed through these human interactions are all unforgettably powerful moments.
While the movie is long, the pacing is never ponderous but instead every frame is thoughtful as well as thought-provoking. Once one is deeply invested in the characters and the storyline, the length never becomes an issue as the engagement is so solid that one never really feels that the movie has gone on for too long. That is the wonderful achievement here.
Yes, the characters. The connection amongst the characters is slowly developed but once the relationships are established, the audience is made to experience the deep heartfelt links between the several characters that is hard to shake long after the movie is done.
Drive My Car is without doubt one of the best films of 2021 and while we would love Dune to get the Academy Award for Best Picture – which is unlikely – we would very much love the award to go this lovely Japanese film instead. Highly recommended!
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