This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
yondu4’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Drive my car is about coming to face to face with our grief and learning to move past it.It exposes the wounds we keep hidden and tries to heal them.
The lead,Yusuke,is still haunted by his daughter's death 20 years later and has distanced himself emotionally from his wife.That takes a toll on their marriage and she tries to find carnal satisfaction in other men.Yet she can't leave him,knowing how it could break his already fragile reality.Her spirit still deeply cares about him.Finally,she gathers the courage to ask for a chance to really talk,to communicate again.He delays the confrontation for as long as he can,aimlessly driving around the city.΅When he is finally ready to break the invincible walls that keep them apart,she too dies.All that survives is his grief.
It could've ended there and would've been an intresting short film but the story continues.The parrarels between the lead and the story of Uncle Vania have grown since his wife's death,Vania's lines echoing his own pain.Driving the car has become something sacred for him,like his own therapy session.He feeds off his own grief.
All that is shattered though when is forced to share that sacred time with another.Suddenly he has to show his more vunerable side to someone else,someone as broken as he is.Slowly but surely they open up to each other.They find comfort in one another,as he sees the daughter he lost in her while she sees the father figure she longed for.In what's essentially a trip to her past,they gather the courage to admit their past mistakes and throw their guilt away.By saving her,he ends up saving himself as well.
Drive my Car shines in its minimalism,in how much it manages convey while doing very little.Much of the film is spent driving aimlessly yet those scenes all contribute to learning the emotional state of the characters.The soundtrack is the film's biggest technical achievement,adding weight to many scenes without overpowering them.
If I had one gripe that prevents from giving it a higher score,it would be that the two storylines(of the Uncle Vania play and of the driving)don't merge organically.The film goes back and fourth between them afraid to decide which one to focus on.The scenes focusing on the play get a little repetative after a while and being honest I think a shorter road trip movie would be more effective in getting its point across.Still,an excellent piece of cinema that deserves the high praise.