Drive My Car

Drive My Car ★★★★½

This journey of grief, stretching through empty tunnels, crossing lands and seas, as viewed from a car window, toward a place where one is finally able to open up and be understood by others is as ethereal and starkly beautiful as cigarette smoke wafting in the night through the open sunroof. It's an emotionally enriching film about communication, an act where language and feeling both should have naturally converged but then ended up not meeting. The things that were never said but should have been. Hamaguchi's way of showing art imitating life imitating art marvelously reflects the incommunicability of his characters, in parallel with the multilingual performative expressions, especially those burdened with unresolved grief and anguish, with the realities of the past and present pivoting around a stage play. It's quite a feat that a 3-hour long ride containing a 40-minute prologue interspersed with scenes of actors rehearsing a Chekov play in multiple languages and people driving around the city smoking, indulging in quiet banters and a 5-minute epilogue offers almost no false note and remains consistent throughout. With aces like this and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy coming out in the same year, Hamaguchi again reminds us why he's the GOAT in the business.

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