Language : Japanese.
Director : Ryûsuke Hamaguchi.
Writers : Haruki Murakami(short story), Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe.
Cast : Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tôko Miura, Reika Kirishima, Masaki Okada
Genre : Drama
Streaming on Mubi.
Also known as Doraibu mai kâ.
Disclaimer: Intended for Mature Audiences Only.
Have you ever read a poem that goes beyond the words and emotions that meet the eye? Have you ever had experiences or relationships that transcend the normal dimensions of human life? Have you ever loved someone so much that you would hurt yourself before hurting them?
If so, Drive my Car (2021) is an incredible experience, laced with incredible writing, a few gray characters, a timeless story, pain, healing, and recovery. Tending towards the longer side, the movie is almost 3 hours but stays with you very long after it ends. The characters are authentic and real as it can get. They are incredibly layered and the film tries to deeply explore a few characters, why they acted in a certain way given a certain circumstance and we try to find meaning in their actions. The cinematography showing Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Hokkaido is beautiful to say the least. The pace of the movie will be slow for excitement seekers and entertainment lovers, but it’s perfect for such a reflective movie probably aimed at cinephiles, intellectuals, artists and creative folks.
The interwoven dynamics each character has with one another in this film is written so well and the film slowly builds the tension ever so well like a Scotch Whiskey on a cold winter night. A certain sequence spanning 30 minutes slowly brings down the tension and makes way for the ending. This certain sequence really slowed down the movie in my opinion and brought down the momentum, otherwise I would have gone for a perfect Bloody Brilliant rating for this movie. It could have been cut, edited better, or even written better, even though it helps and make way for the ending. I have taken special care not to delve into the plot of the movie. The movie can be taken at face value, which everyone will be able to absorb and understand. But if you look closely, there is a lot of detail hidden in plain sight, this is a very detail oriented movie and the story, writing and screenplay is orgasmic when you get into the details. This movie warrants discussions on so many levels, be it the details hidden in plain sight or the character portrayals or the seemingly plain ending. There is nothing ordinary about this movie. It is incredibly layered, it combines the elements of mystery and surrealism to great effect, and the storytelling is simply brilliant. The director has taken care not to use flashback scenes, the past and certain scenes are narrated and we all imagine these scenes in our head ever so vividly. A few other scenes make you say “Damnnn”.
Drive my Car (2021) has been the best movie I have watched this year and it’s no wonder it won the Academy Award for best International Film this year. Must watch for Cinephiles and Murakami fans. Murakami films are not easy at all to adapt, but Ryûsuke Hamaguchi has knocked this one out of the park.
Verdict – 6/7 stars
It’s based on the short story of the same name by Haruki Murakami from his 2014 short story collection “Men Without Women,” though the director acknowledged that he also took inspiration from two other stories of the eight in the collection: “Scheherazade” and “Kino.”
The film was originally set in Busan, South Korea, but was changed to Hiroshima, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe became the first Japanese to win the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes.
The source for “Drive My Car”, the eponymous story from Haruki Murakami’s “Men Without Women”, runs no more than 40 pages.
The car in which so much of the film, “Drive My Car,” takes place has the driver’s seat on the left. But in Japan cars drive on the left side of the road, and the driver’s seat should be on the right side of the car. Oddly unexplained.