Drive My Car, from director Ryusuke Hamaguchi, is a Japanese language film with universal contemporary values that are displayed with empathy and artistry. The film, winner of the Best Screen Play award at the Cannes Film Festival, can be harrowing and sad, but it is a compelling story and a visual experience that will take your breath away.
The main character in Drive My Car is Yusuke Kafuku, played by Hidetoshi Nishijima. Yusuke is an actor and stage director, and he lives in Japan with his wife Oto, played by Reika Kirishima. Oto is a playwright, and she and Yusuke live a life of creativity, love, and commitment to each other. But Yusuke’s life takes a tragic turn when, just as he is about to start a stage production, he finds out he has glaucoma and then his beloved wife Oto dies. Yusuke is a stoic man and he continues with the stage production. He hires a chauffeur, Misaki Watari, played by Toko Miura. Yusuke makes directing his top priority, but it is obvious that he is struggling with his wife’s death.
Yusuke soon finds himself at odds with his production cast, and he unsure of their confidence in him. He begins to question himself as a person, and that affects his production even more. But as he becomes more at odds with those in his production, he finds a growing connection with Misaki, his chauffeur.
Losing someone we love is a tragedy that remains with us forever but, as Drive My Car reminds us, that is just how life goes sometimes. And there is always a path forward.
I loved Drive My Car. Despite its almost three hour length, I was hooked on it from the beginning to the end. The dialogue was inviting, the issues were inviting if difficult, and the outcomes were inviting as well. Four stars for Drive My Car.