Film Review: Drive My Car

Master and driver

Since the advent of moving pictures there have always been long films. Abel Gance’s 1927 classic Napoleon, for example, clocked in at well over five hours. However, what is often described as ‘slow-cinema’ has become increasingly popular. The likes of Béla Tarr and Lav Diaz have made careers out of creating dense and sedate films. Ryûsuke Hamaguchi often gets thrust into this category, but while his films are long, they certainly don’t tarry. Drive My Car is his latest and one of his best.

Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is a renowned stage actor and director. His wife, Oto (Reika Kirishima), was an actress, but gave up her career and became a famous screenwriter. Her sudden death shakes the foundations of his world. Two years later he travels to Hiroshima to stage a production of Uncle Vanya. He is assigned a taciturn young woman, Misaki Watari (Toko Miura), to chauffeur him around in his beloved car.

Based on the short story by Haruki Murakami, Drive My Car is a compelling portrait of a man facing up to the ghosts of his past. It’s a film which gradually builds on, and grows into, itself. Taking the viewer on a journey which is full of small and important interactions. It’s exhilarating to watch Hamaguchi at work. Like a master craftsman gradually constructing his masterpiece. Drive My Car is an enthralling piece of cinematic wonderment.

Drive My Car is out in UK cinemas on 19 November.

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