Drive My Car

Drive My Car ★★★★★

It's a near lock to win the foreign-language Oscar for Japan and maybe go all the way to the big prize just as South Korea’s “Parasite” did two years ago.

Anchored by stellar performances from Hidetoshi Nishijima as a taciturn theater director and Tōko Miura as his mysterious driver, this Japanese drama is an enthralling ride.

Following the success of Drive My Car and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, Hamaguchi has become a director to keep an eye on. While both films deserve a shout-out, most people would agree that Drive My Car has the edge here.

Drive My Car is a meditation on grief, art, communication, and the silences that say more than words ever could.

At three hours long, it’s not a breezy watch, per se. But Hamaguchi uses that extended runtime to craft a contemplative, almost hypnotic tone in which patience is a virtue that pays dividends. There's more going on in any five minutes of Drive My Car than in some movies in their entirety.

Throughout the runtime, we get to watch the protagonist deal with loss in a way that’s unique to him. The restrained screenplay presents us with a character who recovers naturally rather than theatrically.

There are a ton of purposeful little pieces of reincorporation, from single lines of dialogue to imagery and ideas. The use of parallelism and juxtaposition between the core cast was quite clever.

The visual presentation of the film is stunning. The color palette of primarily whites, grays and blues gives the film a depressed mood, but also makes Kafuku’s Red Saab pop during dramatically wide highway scenes.

Pretty much everyone who views this gorgeous movie can agree on: Sometimes, the thing we need most is to be reminded that we are not alone.

Don't be scared off by the epic running time of Drive My Car; it may run just shy of three hours, but it flies by like a dream.

Best Films 2021

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