Drive My Car

Drive My Car ★★★★½

So much to chew on I need to watch it again, but at first glance it’s pretty special filmmaking - with two or three scenes instantly near the top of what I’ve seen this year.

The pacing is gradual, measured, and so focused I didn’t feel the three hours at all. It’s Chekhov meets Murakami and I felt some Edward Yang and Louis Malle in there too. It made me want to rewatch VANYA ON 42ND STREET.

Hamaguchi and Oe’s script humanely takes its time, the performances are lovely, and the whole thing is just quietly steady and lived-in. Impatient viewers may get bored, but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded in the final half hour.

Although it never quite floored me emotionally (I was expecting tears based on the trailer), Hamaguchi taps into the real ache of unexpected human connections, the inability to predict the future, living in the shadow of loss and regret, and the way we’ll never truly be able to know another person.

It’s heavy stuff executed with a light, straightforward touch that builds steadily and I was completely absorbed by the filmmaking throughout. The whole cast is great with Hidetoshi Nishijima and Tōko Miura being the standouts. Who’s going to star in the crappy Hollywood remake - Jeremy Strong and Thomasin McKenzie?

With this and BERGMAN ISLAND, that’s two Cannes contenders I prefer miles over TITANE.

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