Drive My Car

Drive My Car ★★★★★

Most directors wouldn’t dare drop the opening credits 40 minutes into a film, just after the incident that gets the plot rolling…but Ryusuke Hamaguchi isn’t most directors. He isn’t concerned with conventional plot structures, or the need to keep the audience comfortable and far away from any unpleasant truths about life and human nature. As accomplished theater actor Yusuke Kafuku stages a multilingual production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, bonds with the young woman assigned to chauffeur him, and mourns his late wife (whose relationship to him mirrors the play closely), we are right there for every step of the journey. Through the anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance-we see the ugliest parts of Yusuke, and yet we still care about him and want to see him heal and begin anew. Hamaguchi stages intense scenes with quiet dignity, holding shots to make sure we really soak in the discomfort. Like a flower opening in the sun, the plot unfolds slowly-perhaps a bit too slowly for some viewers, but the audience’s patience is more than rewarded. One of the very best of the year and a worthy contender for Best Picture.

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