Drive My Car

Drive My Car ★★★★½

It's hard to put into words how much this film has stuck with me since last night. But what I can say is that it's perhaps the most profound, most philosophical film I've seen in quite some time.

Indeed, the technical aspects of the film are flawless. The camera is mostly tight on all of the actors' faces, allowing them to express a wide range of complex emotions. But then there are the wide landscape shots of Hiroshima, Hokkaido, and the surrounding oceans. There are the wide shots of the entire cast, showcasing the diversity of East Asian talent on the screen. There is the soft, subtle score, quiet for much of the film, but then highlighting, even accentuating the emotions of key moments. The performances of Hidetoshi Nishijima and Toko Miura were profound, relaying a depth of emotion that I have seen so rarely in movies. There is simply so little to criticize here.

Watching in the cinema with an admittedly small crowd was an experience unlike any other. Unlike most of the other boisterous movies I've seen in the theaters, Drive My Car relished in its quiet moments. And sitting in near-complete silence, watching a scene unfold before you, was a weighty ordeal. No one stirred, no one munched on food, there I was, with fifteen strangers, feeling the profundity of the film, exposed in the silence. Surreal.

The movie is long, and Hamaguchi wastes not a second. Sure, there are long silences, long stares, long scenes which could have been edited down. But Hamaguchi left those in, I have to believe, to allow the emotion of each second to seep into us that much more. Maybe this could have been a shorter film. But that probably would have weakened it, too.

I am not sure I am comfortable with a lot of the messages of the film, but it made me consider and reflect upon so much. Love, deep love, grief, sex, acting, theater, the line between fiction and reality, the secrets we keep, the secrets others keep, forgiveness or lack thereof, and the relative passage of time, all held within the intimate confines of a 1990s Saab 900. It's a marvelous film that challenged me, that made me sad, that made me angry, that made me smile, that made me question the very meaning of love and life. Excellent film.

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