Drive My Car (2021)

Drive My Car.

“I’m not sure if this is the right sentiment, but it was moving.”

Drive My Car is a wonderful film, filled with ideas about art and grief and the link between the two. It seems like a straightforward road trip-ish drama film, but Drive My Car is packed, when you peel back the layers, you’ll find a film full of pain and a personal journey that uses the art of performance/acting to heal from that pain.

You watch as landscapes, roads, trees, lakes and buildings pass by as these two people are cocooned in a red car, the solitude and silence between them, makes you forget that this is a three-hour film and by the time the credits roll, you can’t help but be in awe of the magnificent film-making from Ryusuke Hamaguchi, he crafts a film where you don’t want to miss a word, you don’t want to miss a frame because everything is just meaningful and full of passion.

And I just want to say how enchanting this movie is, like it stays with you, it just sits there in your mind, and you process it, long after viewing. I'm thinking about those audition scenes, and the rehearsal scenes and how enchanted I was at the performances and everything else, from the sound to the shot selection. I love how Ryusuke Hamaguchi, makes Drive My Car as a vehicle (pun intended) to mourn, release grief and heal the trauma through the art form of acting/theatre performance. The releasing of it all, all that grief and you know the betrayal, I loved it, I just I loved it.

I love how on the surface it's not sad but as it lingers on you and as you process the film, it hits you in waves. The waves of sadness just hit you because you realize that at the end of the day, you're watching this film about someone grieving a woman who meant balance to him, a woman whom he deeply loved, and now he’s been driven around in his red car by a young woman who has her own healing to do, her own trauma to heal from. And you’re watching this film as they are processing that trauma, and the loss and it resonates.

It's also like a meditation not sure if meditation is the right word but it’s a meditation on grief and guilt through the art form of acting, through theatre production. The screenplay is just wonderful, it unfolds wonderfully and delicately it's just marvelous. My other favourite scenes in the film are scenes that take place in the car.

The sound design there is beautiful, you hear the environment, you can sometimes hear the silence and air around them and that within its own carries so much meaning, because sometimes you do just need a moment to process the world. When the tapes play, they reveal so much about the current state of the characters in the film and so much about the film itself. And when the two characters (Kafuku and Misaki) speak there's just a lot of weight to the words, there's a lot of meaning to what they have to say in their conversations, and it isn't meaningless or just to pass the time.

Overall, Drive My Car is one of the brightest stars (probably the brightest) to come out of the very dull 2021. It’s a film that’s so well written and layered with meaning, things that resonates with audiences who have faced loss. It’s a film about acting/theatre and the healing power of the process, I think. The immaculate filmmaking only heightens the experience and man like Takatsuki says “I’m not sure if this is the right sentiment, but it was moving.”