“Drive my car”, a drama without shrillness that can be the surprise at the Oscars 2022

trailer for the movie “Drive my car”, directed by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi

when it premiered Psychosisfrom Alfred Hitchcock, the producers feared (and how afraid they were) the adverse reaction of the public – that is, the box office – in the face of two circumstances: first, that the 1960 film was shot in black and white; the second, that the announced protagonist, Janet Leigh, died after forty minutes of the film. None of this prevented the massive influx of the public before a great movie.

that the titles of drive my carthe movie of Ryūsuke Hamaguchiappear on the screen after forty-odd minutes from the beginning of the film, when the viewer is at one with the narration and the characters of this film loosely based on a fairy tale. Haruki Murakami, It provokes a certain surprise but at the same time expectation since, formally, that is when the film begins. Had it been produced by the producers of hitchcockThey could breathe easy.

drive my car is the Rare avis Japanese in the category “best film” (it has three more nominations, including “best foreign language film”) for the awards of the hollywood academy which will be delivered this Sunday March 27th. A few days later, on Friday, April 1, it will premiere on the MUBI platform. Probably a film spoken in Japanese does not have the best chances of winning the Oscarbut there it is parasiteswhich he did despite subsequent complaints from the former president donald trump. This is simply an observation, since it is very likely that he will not win the golden statuette, and none of this makes a dent in a beautiful film in its three hours of duration, which shows the duel that a man in his forties goes through, which narrates stories without shrillness and that also raises a reflection on art as a universal language.

"drive my car" can be seen from April 1 on the Mubi platform
“Drive my car” can be seen from April 1 on the Mubi platform

Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is an actor and prestigious theater director known for venturing into novel stagings in his works. Otto (Reika Kirishima) is his wife, a writer for television shows, who usually tells him stories while they have sex, stories whose ending coincides with the climax of the relationship. Their daughter passed away two decades ago and they still remember her on her funeral anniversaries. They seem to be a happy couple. Yusuke has the habit of rehearsing dramatic texts in his car, in which Otto plays the other characters, leaving a silence after each line, so that her husband can say his part. The director witnesses an event that is strange to the conventions of a couple, but he does not mention it and life goes on the same. One afternoon, she is found dead of natural causes.

Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi shows award for best screenplay at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival (File Photo: Reuters/ Reinhard Krause)
Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi shows award for best screenplay at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival (File Photo: Reuters/ Reinhard Krause)

Two years later, Yusuke drives his red car to Hiroshima, where he plans to put Uncle Vanyafrom Chekhov, in a multilingual staging, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Korean Sign Language, practiced by a silent actress. The production of the work prevents the protagonists of the works in Hiroshima (which is a sign of lethal destruction, but also of the drive for life and reconstruction) from driving their cars, and by contract they assign him, despite the indomitable rejection of Yusuketo a driver.

The play also features a young actor who met the director through his wife, who worked with him on youth strips. Yusuke he will establish a particular relationship with the young actor, which could provide him with elements to understand his life. At the same time, if the relationship with the driver is initially cold and distant, soon Yusuke will rehearse shouting in the cabin of the car while driving on a highway, responding to the audios recorded by Otto. The extravagance of the scenes is purely natural and sets the stage for this new relationship.

It is a simple and moving film that shows the life and the narratives that make up people in the trances of the days and nights, a filmic bet that achieves it and, therefore, moves us.

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“Drive my car”, a drama without shrillness that can be the surprise at the Oscars 2022