26 September 2023

Drive My Car

Start the conversation

Reviewed by Hannah Spencer.

Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Potential Films, 2021, MA15+, 179mins.

A masterpiece that unfurls itself slowly and confidently, don’t miss this smooth ride.

Receiving Academy Award nominations across the board for Best Picture, Best International Feature, with director Ryusuke Hamaguchi is in the running for director and screenwriter.

This delicate character study of grief, guilt and human connection is artfully adapted from Haruki Murakami’s short story collection Men Without Women.

Hamaguchi has captured Murakami’s slow serene prose in a way that has eluded previous directors.

Lead character Yūsuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima, The Wind Rises) is a successful actor and theatre director in a complex relationship with his wife Oto (Reika Kirishima, Norwegian Wood).

Two years after the sudden death of Oto, Kafuku takes a position directing a multi-lingual production of Chekhov’s play Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima.

However, Oto is ever present, her voice rings out from a cassette recording of Uncle Vanya that Kafuku practices his lines to daily, and then her previous lover is cast in Kafuku’s play.

Kafuku takes solitude in his daily drives, however this is interrupted when he is assigned a driver for his daily commute, the young Misaki who carries past tragedies of her own (Tôko Miura, The Girl In The Sun).

Neither are inclined to conversation at first, so their rides are filled with the voice of Oto reciting Uncle Vanya.

In a beautiful intertwining of texts by Hamaguchi, the lines from Uncle Vanya play on each character’s journey, delicately revealing and adding nuance in place of dialogue.

Gradually a friendship grows between Kafuku and Misaki, allowing each to take a journey of self-discovery and process their past tragedies and deep feelings of guilt.

Any attempt to summarize this subtle, beautifully detailed film is futile.

It is a film that needs to be watched for yourself. Probably more than once.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Screening Nationally

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.