Drive My Car (2021)

drive my car poster 2021 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking movie with a story that requires thought from the viewer

Not for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Drive My Car

Studio: Movie Studio

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s): Movie Release Date

MPAA Rating: Movie Rating

drive my car table read uncle vanya

Want to know the behind the scenes excitement of stage and Hollywood? This is it…right here…seriously

Yûsuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is a famed actor-director with a wife named Oto (Reika Kirishima) who is also acclaimed in her writing and skills.  When tragedy strikes, Yûsuke finds himself widowed, despondent, and unable to act, but Yûsuke also questioning the legitimacy of his marriage in general.  Travelling to Hiroshima, Yûsuke is tasked with putting on a multicultural and multilingual version of Uncle Vanya which he in the past has performed.  Yûsuke is assigned a driver named Miski Watari (Tōko Miura) as his escort as Yûsuke dives deep into the play…facing the demons of his past and questioning his own life.

Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car (ドライブ・マイ・カー or Doraibu mai kā) is a Japanese drama.  The film is an adaptation of the short story “Drive My Car” by Haruki Murakami which was published in his collection Men Without Women in 2014.  The film won an Academy Award for Best International Feature Film with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

drive my car hideotshi nishijima masaki okada

So…just curious…were you having sex with my dead wife?

I’ve read a little of Haruki Murakami, and he’s very slow and very deliberate…and Drive My Car feels completely like something he’d write.  With a runtime of just under three hours, the movie moves at a pace not like most movies, but it also doesn’t feel like three hours.

You in many ways could argue that Drive My Car doesn’t have much of a plot.  It features a lot a few different sequences that are connected, but it feels very tangential.  The connection is emotion and themes and much like a Bergman movie, you don’t get a lot more in that sense.  The story wraps around the performance of Uncle Vanya, and it does help to know a basic understanding of the plot of Uncle Vanya because many of the themes of that play echo in the story…regret, loss, and what a person can and cannot control in their life.  The characters of Drive My Car are dealing with all of them…and trying to find a way to move past them.

drive my car hidetoshi nishijima toko miura

Yeah…death and detachment suck

The cast is good, but the acting style also almost echoes the play within the movie.  The actors are very reserved and rarely let out their emotions…making it more significant when they do.  It is an interesting play-within-the-movie in that they bring together a multicultural blend to show the universal nature of emotions featuring Japanese, Korean, American, and sign language among others.  Hidetoshi Nishijima is stoic as the lead, and Tōko Miura is also repressed and quiet.  Masaki Okada is the emotional Kōji Takatsuki who acts out on his emotions while Reika Kirishima is good in her small role as Yūsuke’s wife.  I particularly like Park Yu-rim who plays the deaf Korean signer who helps create a very touching conclusion to the film that blends the plot of Uncle Vanya and the storyline of Yûsuke.

drive my car uncle vanya park yu rim

A weird (but perfect) way to bring his story to a close.

The movie is expertly shot.  It is very open and very distant…like the characters.  There doesn’t seem to be much connection for the actors and everyone is always separated.  The movie was originally set in Busan but moved to Hiroshima due to COVID.  The characters are so separated it feels really important when they are close and are allowed to show the emotion they are repressing.

Drive My Car is definitely not for everyone, but it is the type of movie that you hopefully think about after you go.  It is a movie about how you can remained wounded by the past or allow cuts to scar and heal if you choose.  The film features a layered approach to the storytelling that creates a story-within-a-story that reflects on the story being told within the film as a whole, so it does require more from the viewer than a basic movie.  Take the challenge, and Drive My Car.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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