Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura et la voiture de «Drive my car»

“Drive My Car”: Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s paradoxical road movie

Posted Jul 12, 2021, 8:00 AMUpdated on Jul 12, 2021 at 9:35 am

A film whose credits appear only after 45 minutes of projection can legitimately be suspected of authorist pose… This is not the case of “Drive My Car”, the new marvel of Ryusuke Hamaguchi. This free three-hour adaptation of a short story by Haruki Murakami published in the collection “Men without Women” (Ed. 10/18) was presented in competition on Sunday to a jury stunned under Sunday goods with screenings of films by Nanni Moretti (“Very Piani”) and Mia Hansen Love (“Bergman Island”)

The first part of “Drive My Car” (preceding the credits, therefore) paints an elliptical portrait of Yusuke, an actor and theater director who seems, but only seems, to live in bliss with his companion. Gradually, the shadowy areas of the couple emerge on the surface of the story. The duo never recovered from the disappearance of their young child and the heroine, moreover, lives an affair with a young actor. One day, Yusuke surprises the lovers in full frolic, but he prefers not to tell his companion and seems to accept that his love story obeys this unsaid.

Loneliness and strangeness

After the credits, the film makes a time jump. Years later, following dramatic events that should not be revealed, Yusuke finds himself alone in Hiroshima in an artists’ residence where he is preparing performances of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” with a few actors, including the young lover of his wife. There, Ysuke meets a mute woman, Misaki, who serves as his driver. Between these two solitudes, a paradoxical relationship emerges, first in the vehicle where, day after day, they somehow learn to dialogue.

The work of mourning, communication in pain, guilt… Around these themes (among others), Hamaguchi stages a film full of delicacy and strangeness that plunges deep into the suffering of its beautiful characters. Scripted and staged with a consummate art of variation, “Drive my Car” confirms the precious talent of the director of “Senses” and “Asako I & II”. No one knows if this poignant film will seduce the jury, but one thing is certain: it stands out as a new success for the unclassifiable filmmaker.

drive my car

Japanese Film (Competition)

by Ryusuke Hamaguchi

with Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura, Masaki Okada… 2:59. Released August 18.

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