maneleeo’s review published on Letterboxd:
Having seen a three-hour long film, reaching the end and thinking that I wanted to see even more is an astonishing feat. It's like watching that was for me so tender and intimate and then having to see it go, having to say goodbye knowing it will be stuck on my mind for a long long time.
"Drive My Car" is a powerful film. And it has that power by not showing it with big bursts of exterior emotion. Some people aren't just like that, most of the time I'm not like that, keeping things for myself or sharing them at my own quiet and simple way. Yûsuke Kafuku is the kind of character I can relate to (and even if I couldn't, I would still think he is a terrific protagonist). He is the kind of man that tells himself whatever he needs to hear to keep going with his life, so the things he so carefully arranged might not be disrupted, so he can continue doing everything on his own terms. You can see his meticulous sense of order on his plays, they are flawless and even with his unorthodox approach to language not as a barrier but a continuous flow of the human interaction, not an obstacle to communication, everything turns out exactly as he intends. He has a hard time showing affection, he does show it at times, and when people are not looking, that's when he is the kindest, but overall, such a reserved personality hinders the way people interact with him. You can see that in the way he takes compliments, the way he speaks to his wife, the sometimes robotic way of existing. Yûsuke Kafuku is a fascinating character, and not mention his car. That bright red little car had such an impact on my eyes everytime I saw it. The car, I dare to say, made every scene it appeared on more beautiful. It was such a great sight, and probably an extension of Kafuku's personality. It was inside his car where he rehearsed alone using the cassettes his wife recorded just for him, and so his reign of order continues even in the place where he feels the freest. He understood the road as something like a gift, the possibility of being anywhere else, even the way to escape his problems when they were sure to come. All of these little parts of Yûsuke Kafuku are given to us in a glorious prologue that spans 40 minutes but sure don't feel like it.
Then, we still have two hours and twenty minutes of film to go. And it was such a delicate film and still life-affirming. All of that because we're introduced to such a delightful and complicated set of characters like Misaki Watari, or Kon Yoon-su and Lee Yoon-a. Such an international set of characters that was brought together to speak in a single language, one that is comprehensible to everyone, art. For the character's case, through theater. For me and the audience that watched the film, through cinema. I just felt it was perfect and the writing was absolutely brilliant you know? I really liked it and dare to say it was my favourite of 2021.