Vince The Cinephile’s review published on Letterboxd:
Adapting one of Haruki Murakami’s short story collection, Japanese filmmaker Ryūsuke Hamaguchi (Asako I & II) renders a confident, meditative piece of dramatic filmmaking exposing truths about human connection, grief, and acceptance. Drive My Car has an imposing three-hour running time, but its gentle moving storyline will keep you intrigued of its mysteries and endless revelations. The film follows an unexpected kinship between a widowed actor-theatre director and his young female chauffeur.
Aside from basing its text from Murakami himself, Drive My Car gets inspiration from another writer—celebrated Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. In the film’s second hour, the film spends a bulk of its time following the theatre director as he prepares to set up a Chekhov play Uncle Vanya which alludes the play’s themes to the director’s current life and relationships. It’s in this where Hamaguchi and co-writer Takamasa Oe conjures the whimsical and poetic nature of literature supporting life’s mysteries. And as we follow through, every encounter in the film, whether it’s mostly in the car or at the bar, contains significant revelations on how these characters learn to heal from the pains of their past.
Lead actor Hidetoshi Nishijima and newbie actress Toko Miura anchors Hamaguchi’s spellbinding direction and effortlessly and understatedly lead us through the mysteries of this film. Overall, there’s richness to this film after the three long hours of watching Drive My Car. Hamaguchi and his team encapsulates Murakami’s literature and extends it to a more joyous, significant heights.