Drive My Car

Drive My Car ★★★★

Hamaguchi’s latest film entitled Drive My Car is quite simply one of the most extraordinary films of the year 2021, and I’m pretty sure that it’s also without a doubt, one of the greatest films of the year in terms of depth and richness regarding the aspects of storytelling. To put it delicately, Drive My Car is not necessarily the easiest film to follow as it comes in at about three good hours of runtime. However, that being said, the runtime actually is put into good use as this is a film that is meant to be analyzed and followed in every step it takes, so I guess the slow-burning runtime does do a good job in terms of giving room for thoughts and interpretations to be unearthed. 

Adapted from one of Murakami’s short stories of the same name Drive My Car is a story that can catch one off guard in every possible way as it's filled with the utmost imagery along with the twists and turns. While one may see the film to be a story about marriage, infidelity, and grief during the first 40 minutes of the film, it’s really only there where the opening credits pop out as it sets the tone that the film had just started. 

Following that, the story runs on a very abstract, but the rich subject matter as the aging actor (the protagonist) works on a play as he goes through the existentialism of life along with grieving on the death of his wife that had just died as seen during the first half of the film. And while the film doesn’t really feature any kind of coherent narrative aside from the ongoing work within the play they’re constructing, what the spectacle really emphasizes is the people working on the play as we look onto their lives, or perhaps the lack thereof. 

If there was a way to put it, Drive My Car feels like a novel written by an existential philosopher such as Albert Camus or someone of that sort as every character within the film appears to be the mundane figure that’s trying to search a meaning within their life despite the absurdity of it (that’s what makes it rather intriguing and utterly thought-provoking). 

With its slow-burning pace creating such a profoundly thought-provoking atmosphere on the meaning of life, the aging actor along with his cast ponder upon the absurdity that they’re living and question what is there to do with life if the void is such an immense amount of existential suffering. To put it into perspective, Drive My Car doesn’t really give out this subject matter in the most direct manner for two reasons as it also evokes that one of the subjects within not just the film but also life is how humans can’t really directly say what they want to say, and thus, no one understands them and they feel alone in this world. 

And as for the other, the film doesn’t directly give out this topic as it provokes the audience to use the symbols and imagery within the spectacle in order to make something out of what’s being presented. In other words, it’s quite a work of art. Overall, if there was a way to put it, Drive My Car felt like a novel filled with richness and depth within the storytelling. 

But as for things the other parts of technicality such as the cinematography, it without a doubt could’ve been more poetic with how it illustrates imagery aside from just relying too much on the dialogue, and to me, that’s what really makes it feel more like an artistic novel rather than a full-on cinematic immersion. Nevertheless, this was quite the motion picture filled with the utmost thought-provoking nuances.

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