Drive My Car

Drive My Car ★★★★★

it’s been a hell of a rough week leading up to this film. between the stress of exams, editing a short film and dealing with feelings of personal confusion and heartbreak, i was ready to leave all my baggage at the door of the cinema when i saw that drive my car had one more evening showtime that i just managed to catch at my local theater. i knew nothing about this film going into it other than what reads in the letterboxd description, and on the other side of this three hour odyssey i almost wish i hadn’t even read that. i’m completely blown away.

a trend i’ve been noticing in 2021 specifically is the use of the traditional three-act structure to tell three almost completely different stories with different messages (looking at you, titane). and after seeing the title drop almost 40 minutes into this film (as well as everything leading up to it at that point) i knew there would be more layers to its story than i could have ever prepared myself for. this is such a complex study of grief that, despite its somewhat stoic approach, reminds the viewer with every single line of dialogue that everybody mourns differently. in hindsight i’m even more impressed at the fact that this film was able to walk through all five stages with multiple characters and didn’t end up coming off as redundant in the slightest. because there are universal aspects of loss that even complete strangers may be able to find comfort in, but at the end of the day the emotional struggle of another human being is fundamentally unknowable to you.

each character in this film wages a battle within themself, and though these battles definitely don’t boil down to simple “angel vs devil” tropes, i think you can pretty much draw a straight line from every one of their actions to a personal sense of eros/thanos. whether it presents itself in an aching, longing monologue, or the unfamiliar almost bergman-esque isolation of their surroundings, there is a serene richness to every relationship in this film that strung my heart along for the entirety of the runtime. this film literally had my full attention from start to finish. 

technically this is a film that gets everything exactly right. the cinematography is gorgeous, the sound design is extremely attentive to detail, and my GOD is this thing edited fucking flawlessly. the film makes you notice it’s sequencing when it wants you to, but for the rest of the time it’s completely seamless. there’s one moment at around the 40 minute mark that offers three incredibly jarring (yet sensical) cuts, pitted back to back to back, and each one of them honestly felt like a bullet being driven straight through my heart and out the other side all over again. it’s amazing how much you can communicate just simply by switching from one angle to another at the exactly right moment. i would say it’s a science but i feel like given the impact it has on me it’s much closer to magic.

it was great to lose myself in a film again, and with an actually packed theater i felt every silence with about ten times as much force as i would have watching it alone. that said, the final 40 or so minutes of the film actually did something i wasn’t expecting. it removed me from the experience and held a mirror to my face. that’s about as far as i’m comfortable elaborating in order to not spoil anything (if you’ve seen the film, i hope you know what i’m referring to here). but if you’re anything like me be prepared to experience a lot of shock and sorrow, only to have the tables turned on you by the ending.

please watch this in theaters if you get a chance. you will not regret it. 

2021 ranked

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