Drive My Car

Drive My Car ★★★★½

There's something very spooky about this from the opening shot, a long take of a woman in very purposeful complete shadow, narrating a strange, sexually charged tale, her mouth invisible. It sets the tone film for a film that is to a great extent about people being in some way in shadow, though mostly in a more metaphorical sense. It's a true psychological drama, though the psychology it explores is often opaque, even to the characters themselves, as they try to process, or not process themselves, and how they relate and do not relate to their loved ones, their grief, their own decisions and their art, often all at once. Hamaguchi's pacing is extremely deliberate, but very purposeful - it's a long three hours but never annoyingly so. I wish I was able to lose myself in it a bit more on first viewing - the meditative long takes, serene driving scenes, and general sense of mystery definitely make for a film that you can just as easily let wash over you as you can attempt to understand its many complex connections, insights, and symbols - which is what I did this viewing, to somewhat mixed effect. Either way, this is a great film, the rare movie deserving of its astronomical hype. Incredible performances across the board, impeccable but restrained craftsmanship, and a film with real juice, for lack of a better phrase, something that too many new releases (many as hyped as this one) seem to lack in my opinion. Cannot wait to get lost in it again, and explore what else Hamaguchi's filmography has to offer.

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