FOUR BEERS AND A CHEERS
"There are few films where three hours wash past you without you even noticing, leaving you thinking about it for the foreseeable future"
Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car has an aching beauty to it. We focus on theatre director Yûsuke Kafuku for the most part of the picture. His wife Oto writes screenplays for Television; she writes her scripts by speaking through the plot out loud during sex. The next morning her memory is faded and Yûsuke recounts the story back to her. We are invited into their intimacy, to witness their rituals of living, of coping together. The script evolves from this in the most natural, subtle, yet strikingly unpredictable way
Drive My Car is stylistically gorgeous. Hidetoshi Shinomiya’s cinematography is as layered as any other moving part within this film. The car (a 1987 Saab 900 Turbo) is often the centrepiece for the shots; the red lights bleed out into the colder peripheral canvas. There is a warmth to the car, the cherry red exterior glows under streetlamps. Hamaguchi does not fear to hold shots on the vehicle. I could not help feeling there was a reminiscence of Tarkovsky’s (in)famous highway scene from Solaris latently flowing throughout the film; I was able to stare at the Japanese streetscape passing by the Saab and recap previous comments and speeches – it gives you time to think – an often-forgotten necessity in film
Two scenes in particular held an incredible power to them, the first was the conversation between Yûsuke and his problematic lead actor Kôji Takatsuki and the second between Yûsuke and Lee Yoo-na. Both of these scenes are so powerful because of how Hamaguchi approaches initially what is said (the first scene mentioned), and arguably more importantly, what is not said. The film is a canvas of miscommunication and of delayed communication. Actors within Yûsuke’s play all speak different languages; body language, the feelings between the lines are what are brought to the forefront. The play (Uncle Vanya) parallels the life beyond it, the two complement each other beautifully.
It is hard to fault this picture. There are few films where three hours wash past you without you even noticing, leaving you thinking about it for the foreseeable future. I genuinely look forward to watching this again soon.