Film of the Month 2: Drive My Car
Director: Ryūsuke Hamaguchi
Stars: Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tōko Miura, Masaki Okada, Reika Kirishima
An air of exquisite melancholy hangs over this stately-paced adaptation of the Haruki Murakami short story. Theatre actor and director Yūsuke (Nishijima) lives in Tokyo with his partner Oto (Kirishima) a TV screenwriter. They are content in their routines although memories of the death of a young daughter has warped their relationship to a degree. After a dramatic incident, Yukuse relocates to Hiroshima to begin directing a multi-lingual version of Uncle Vanya. Surprisingly, he casts an old colleague of Oto’s, the young and good-looking Kōji (Okada) as the lead, suggesting that Yukuse may have an ulterior motive.
During his stay in Tokyo, Yūsuke is assigned against his wishes (and for insurance purposes) a designated driver Misaki (Miura) a young, reserved working class woman. Over the course of their lengthy car journeys, they confide in each other their lives, regrets and family histories, with the titular Red Saab serving as a combination of confession booth and a therapist’s couch.
Writer-director Hamaguchi has fashioned a meditative and perfectly-calibrated study of loss and acceptance which elegantly incorporates passages from Uncle Vanya without suffering from the comparison. The accretion of detail conveyed in long still takes culminates in a stirring and profound conclusion.
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