Drive My Car

Drive My Car ★★★

Hamaguchi's blocking, the performances he directs, and the attention given to the process of rehearsal and theatre within his narratives, as gateways into a characters history and their boundaries (whether its the words and staging of Chekov here, the communication workshops in Happy Hour, or the roleplaying that acts as a bridge to catharsis in Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy), are delivered with such ease and care; I find so much beauty in the value afforded to time, and the act of watching a dynamic gradually change/develop before your eyes ("speeds up and slows down so smoothly, I hardly feel gravity.")

I found the same beauty in Drive My Car, but I didn't emotionally connect as deeply as I have in the past (particularly with Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, and Happy Hour). I found the first forty minutes to be pretty poorly paced with little time for the actors to effectively build the relationship between Yūsuke and Oto; though maybe it isn't the relationship that needed better exploring at that point (it works best as something that feels unfinished and left unsaid), but the groove and melody of the film that needed finding. I'm not sure whether I wish the prologue had been considerably longer or slower in order to find room for a more gradual introduction to the film, but something off about its movement stuck with me throughout the runtime. Drive My Car is strongest when a rehearsal, a performance, or a conversation is isolated in its setting, and given the weight and presence of the entire world by the camera, where there's no rush to leave the look in someone's eyes; I wish there were more of these moments here, but I'm conscious that I may have just missed them and won't be able to truly appreciate how this all unfolds until I've watched it again.

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