Some may dismiss this sprawling Japanese import from Ryusuke Hamaguchi as willfully stretched out and reiterative. But, there’s something revelatory, as well as palliative about his Drive My Car from its tiered narrative to smoothly swirling sounds which reward and earns attention, especially from a particularly sympathetic outlook.
The multi-lingual production (which includes Korean Sign Language) should easily earn a not for Best International Feature because of how undeterred the director and co-writer expands Haruki Murakami’s short story. As the imagination is terrifically tapped within individual remorse and resentment.
The winding circuitousness has a middle-aged theatre actor and director, Hidetoshi Nishijima’s Yusuke coping with loss and disloyalty on his Hiroshima stage occupancy. His very capable driver is an introverted twenty-something Misaki (Toko Miura) who’s been pained in a different way, as he directs Anton Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’. A probing within these kindred spirits and others in their orbit, including a dramaturge, has a transcendental, contemplative aura that is cogent, if a bit unusual. Like the director’s precious glossy red Saab 900 Turbo in which they traverse many a mile.
A lengthy prologue offers notable background on Yusuke’s television writer missus Too (Reika Kirishma) who finds inspiration during intimacy, but needs assistance for a refined product. Because of the aplomb on display in the filmmaking and storytelling with sizable margining, being with these characters for quite a period of time is more affecting than irksome. With a deft Nishijima and a discreet Miura in a ride that quietly reverberates long afterwards.