Drive My Car

Drive My Car ★★★★

Drive My Car is a very quiet, intimate yet closed-off, slow burn, consisting mostly of stories told in cars and rehearsals for a multilingual adaptation of Uncle Vanya. If that sounds boring then... you would be wrong. Despite the fact that the pre-credits prologue of the film was long enough for a member of the audience to ask whether the film was over, Drive My Car is never long and never slow just for the sake of it.

And, as the plot escalates, and character secrets and motives are revealed, the slowness pays off more and more, leading to a really beautiful last half-hour where everything comes together, and few words are spoken.

I loved the long scenes of storytelling where I could get lost in my own imagination of the stories whilst watching the film, and the time passing in the film felt very much like time passing in real life, moreso than in most films, as the very naturalistic performances are complimented by a prevailing sense of something always being wrong, and that driving force, combined with the literal driving of the car, kept me always engaged, and always looking back at what I'd seen before as it gets recontextualised later on.

I'm very interested in checking out more films from Hamaguchi and, whilst the one thing missing from this film was an emotional connection from me beyond simple sympathy (in the intensely emotional climax I was left as an observer rather than an empathiser and I think that diminished the scene's effect), Drive My Car has been one of the most exciting and innovative films of 2021 so far.

2021 Ranked

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