Ayush Das Adhikary’s review published on Letterboxd:
People spend their whole lives forming bonds with each other. Some of those bonds are permanent, others fleeting. Some bonds simply do not last at all, some only get stronger over time, some unfortunately have the sour luck of hanging by a thread while slowly crumbling like walls subjected to acid rain. Rarely does a relationship remain unchanged throughout its course.
This dynamic nature of relationships is fueled entirely by people going through trials and tribulations with each other and by themselves. You may think you know a person, but you would never get to know every single thing - trivial or important - about them. Drive My Car, through its potent examination of grief as experienced together and alone, demonstrates just how fundamentally unknowable human beings are to each other, despite occasionally finding in another person a blurred reflection of their own selves.
Words fail to convey actual feelings for the people in this film. It's not the system of communication which is at fault, but the people trying to communicate.
The way Ryusuke Hamaguchi ever so earnestly peels the many layers and stages of grief; the way he manages to not only explore people apart from his protagonist but also show their own ways of dealing with grief is nothing short of astounding, if only because he achieves this feat seemingly effortlessly. These people don't exist to hold the protagonist's hand and help him find himself. Instead, they simply make him realise that he is not alone in his suffering. It is universal.
Over the three-hour runtime, we bear witness to a crumbling marriage that inevitably disintegrates into non-existence after hanging by its last thread for much longer than it should have, and the evolution of a man from being in a perpetual state of emotional repression to finally someone who understands himself better by realising where he went wrong in his marriage. For much of the runtime, his emotional repression had turned into ours; his mournful yet dry eyes forbade us from weeping. At last, when he wept, so did we.
Drive My Car is a mature, emotionally draining mid-life metamorphosis; a metamorphosis undergone by Yūsuke Kafuku by coming to terms with the ghosts of his past. An internal odyssey whose inherent nature strangles and suffocates like cigarette smoke inside a car, but ultimately, the destination is akin to the car's windows rolling down after enduring it all; you can finally, hopefully breathe and move on for good.