Drive My Car expands upon Haruki Murakami’s short story, Men Without Women. The film follows the stage actor and director, Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) following the sudden death of his wife, Oto (Reika Kirishima) and the film’s opening covers the last few months of their relationship. During this time, Kafuku rehearses for a stage production of Uncle Vanya, using a tape of Oto reciting lines for him. After Oto’s passing, the film skips forward two years. Kafuku travels to Hiroshima to direct a production of Uncle Vanya and while there the drama school requires him to have a driver for safety purposes. He’s resistant to the idea because he rehearses his lines while driving but after meeting his driver, Misaki Watahari (Toko Miura) he decides on a trial run. He then agrees to keep Watahari, a Korean with her own tragic past. They form a father-daughter relationship during their hours together in the car and help each other emotionally process their pasts.
Most of the film takes place in Kafuku’s car; every emotional revelation occurs within it. Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya plays a considerable role in the movie and the way it’s used throughout the film was inspired; lines from the play reflect Kafuku’s state of mind. The intentional use of prolonged silence to reflect was highly effective. It was one of my favourite things about the film.
Hidetoshi Nishijima as Kafuku is insanely watchable in the film, you can feel everything he does and sympathize with him, from discovering his wife’s numerous affairs and the realization that he was no longer her muse.
Ok, so the length needs to be addressed. Drive My Car is one minute short of three hours. I am the first person to complain about overly-long films that could have been an hour and a half. For this film though, the length made sense. The preface to the film was at least forty-five minutes, and it was separated intentionally by the opening credits. The film used every moment well, and the runtime was utterly justified.
While the Oscars are irrelevant now (sorry, not sorry), nominations are the only way some international films get into theatres. This is a strong contender and probably should win at least one award. In the end though, it doesn’t really matter because the audience is the real winner. The film is worth a watch in my opinion, it has beautiful scenery, and quiet, emotional performances.
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I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.