Drive My Car (2021)
February 18, 2022 5:19 PM - Subscribe

Yusuke Kafuku, a stage actor and director, accepts a residency at a theater festival in Hiroshima to mount a performance of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. There he meets Misaki, an introverted young woman, appointed to drive his car. Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi; based on a 2014 short story by Haruki Murakami. Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Feature Film, and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 94th Academy Awards.
posted by Panthalassa (14 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
absolutely incredible film. every moment of the three hour runtime is important. not a wasted word or glance.

probably my second favorite film after wings of desire.

it's at the denver sie film center, and i may be driving up to see it again today.

i prefer subs, but was skeptical that 3 hours worth would be taxing: nope.

the principle relationship has many of the nuanced and powerful - and unspoken - qualities of that in lost in translation, albeit a much darker setting and theme.

if you have the covid risk budget, go see it on a big screen during a matinee or some off-time showing with low attendance.

the final scenes: sublime ambiguity and hope, in a tenuous balance.

four stars.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:20 AM on February 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

translation/subtitles by Metafilter's Own misozaki!
posted by emmling at 4:40 AM on February 20, 2022 [13 favorites]

posted by j_curiouser at 11:01 AM on February 21, 2022

Tremendous movie - best I saw last year. Totally riveting despite its length.
posted by adrianhon at 12:38 PM on February 21, 2022

Totally riveting despite its length.

As someone who reads Murakami religiously and has yet to watch anything based on his works I totally get this description.
posted by M Edward at 10:19 AM on February 22, 2022

Can someone explain the ending to me?


Abrupt break from previous action. We see Misaki driving with a big smile on her face. Her scar is gone. It looks like she's driving Yosuke's Saab, but the license plate is different. Did everybody live happily ever after? Was it a dream? Is it not Misaki, but her actress Tôko Miura, who has taken off her scar makeup and been allowed to keep the car? None of these really make sense to me.

If anyone has a cogent explanation of the final scene, please let me know.
posted by ubiquity at 2:56 PM on February 25, 2022

Oh yes, and she has the dog that belonged to the couple who have them for lunch, or one exactly like it.
posted by ubiquity at 3:50 PM on February 25, 2022

So the final scene is actually set in South Korea, if I'm not mistaken. My interpretation is that as part of their healing processes Yusuke gave her the car, she underwent the procedure she mentions in the film to hide the scar, got a dog and moved to Korea (in some order).

I read an interview with Hamaguchi in which he said everything in the film that happens in Hiroshima was originally supposed to happen in Busan, South Korea, but COVID forced a change of plans. Perhaps the final scene was shot before everything was relocated to Japan?
posted by Panthalassa at 8:19 PM on March 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

I loved this film. I had read Men Without Women a few years ago, so the details were blurry, but I noticed a lot of the plot synopses for this film were actually incorrect - it seems they had just yoinked the synopsis from the short story. Without spoiling anything: the film is actually based on two (or more?) short stories in the collection! A great, inventive adaptation, for sure.
posted by destructive cactus at 11:49 AM on March 8, 2022

I'm not a fan of Chekov and find most English translations insufferable. Eh, the melodrama and pronouncements. Please. And the fucking gun. Don't get me started on the gun. So all this blather about it being in the text, go back to the text, it got my hackles up. But this, this beautiful and amazing thing. The KSL monolog at the end transcended language, transcended translation. Such an incredible film. Such beauty and humanity and truth.

Also, the Saab 900 turbo stood out. Not like a big odd thing, but a personal thing. It screamed a faint whisper. It was lovely to look at, and such a great vehicle for the ride we were on. The car alone deserves an award. What a wonderful way to spend a long drive.
posted by Stanczyk at 6:42 PM on March 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Bit of a Murakami Easter Egg in the film, Misaki's hometown, Kami Junitaki village was part of his book A Wild Sheep Chase. I read that book something like 20 years ago so I'm surprised I remembered the name when it came up in the movie. Apparently when the short story was originally published it used the name of a real town and there was a comment he had made in the book that offended the town so he changed it for the book and movie.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:58 PM on March 14, 2022 [3 favorites]

I think there could have been some cuts lol.. Not much though. I think it wouldn't work if it was too much shorter, the majestic feeling is a big part of it.

The final scene of the play (the KSL monologue) is going to stick with me awhile. As well as the evolving story Oto's boy toy tells in the car, his escalating expression (and the story itself), just an amazing turning point.

What was with that room in the ferry, though? No benches, no chairs, no nothin?!
posted by fleacircus at 2:48 PM on March 14, 2022

Drive My Car (2021) was the fourth movie I'd seen by Hamaguchi, and I was glad I already knew how much I appreciated his work, because I disliked the first 40 minutes and could easily have decided to turn it off. Of course, I thought it was purely amazing beyond that point. FWIW Happy Hour (2015) is still my favorite, and in the US it's available with ads here and here. The third story in Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (2021) was beyond perfect. And Asako I & II (2018) was also excellent. Drive My Car punches a little harder than any of them--more dramatic events, clearer themes, etc.--which is both a strength and also a reason I still preferred Happy Hour, but all these movies are on my all-time favorites list.
posted by Wobbuffet at 12:08 PM on May 5, 2022 [3 favorites]

This was my husband's choice for a movie night, and I wasn't expecting to be so absorbed in it by the end. I don't know if there's a Japanese equivalent to the manic pixie dream girl trope, but Oto came across that way to me. So I was doing a bit of eye-rolling through the prologue. But once we met the driver I warmed to everyone and wanted to know their stories. And the cigarettes out of the sunroof felt like such a huge payoff - letting down defences but still with respect for their shared love of the car.

My favourite side character was the theatre's manager-type lady. I like to think she has a backstory of dealing with so many temperamental artists in a long and enjoyable career, that she's perfected a polite firmness in setting expectations. Even when the main actor is arrested, she presents the director with a choice of two options she will support. Like a parent giving a toddler a choice of green or yellow pants for the day, he can pick whichever one he prefers but there's no debate, no other options to fuss over.

I'd call this movie a slow burn, except that "burn" feels too dramatic. A gradual build?
posted by harriet vane at 3:37 AM on January 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

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