CinemaCl🎃wn’s review published on Letterboxd:
A story about love, loss, grief, trauma, acceptance & healing that's rendered on screen with the attention & understanding it deserves, Drive My Car makes its 3-hour runtime feel insignificant by narrating a thoroughly engrossing drama that could only work if it is allowed to unravel at its own pace and makes for an emotionally crippling journey that benefits from sincere inputs from its cast.
Co-written & directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, the opening credits surface around the 40th minute mark coz that's when the main story actually begins but what its extended prologue does in the meantime is it silently acquaints us with our protagonist's emotional state, inner turmoil & abounding emptiness within, which in effect allows us to sympathise with him & his actions on a much deeper & more intimate level.
What's impressive about Hamaguchi's storytelling is that he gives ample breathing room to his characters and allows them to express themselves at their own comfort. Also, he makes those moments earned through the quiet spaces in between. The story shifts gear once the stage director & the young chauffeur assigned to him start interacting about their past lives and the nuanced tone of their performances makes it even more immersive.
Overall, Drive My Car never hurries through any of its motions and requires patience on the viewers' part but it is worth the effort, for the end result is rewarding & stimulating on more levels than one. Anchored by Hamaguchi's steady direction and strengthened by authentic work from its cast, this Japanese road drama isn't for all but for those who can relate to its emotional journey, the film will prove to be a profoundly personal & cathartic experience.