Director; Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Starring; Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura, Reika Kirishima.. Unrated. Color. 189 Minutes.
Contemplating tragedy is different for everyone. Meditating on such moments are rarely portrayed in such a way that director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s latest film “Drive My Car” pulls off. The obvious sobbing or breaking down snip-its are showcased at a minimal level. Instead, at its heart, “Drive My Car” is about trying to survive when life wants to break you.
With a rarity better known to novels as opposed to films, “Drive My Car” begins with a prologue. Hidetoshi Nishijima plays Mr. Kafuku, a well renowned actor and director in the Japanese theater scene. His wife Oto (Reika Kirishima) is a big-wig writer/producer for one of the top television networks in the country. On paper they are happy and perfect, but underneath the facade is a much more complicated story. Oto cannot write without having sex first, part of why she is cheating on Kafuka with multiple men. The great actor Kafuka cannot focus without his wife along for the journey. Then, suddenly, Oto has a brain hemorrhage and is found dead.
That is the prologue with the opening credits beginning 45 minutes into this journey.
We pick up with the story two years later. Kafuku has finally accepted the tragedy of his wife’s death and is ready to direct a play once again. His first venture on the stage will be performed in Hiroshima, Japan. The project being the classic “Uncle Vanya”, written by the legendary Anton Checkhov. The irony of a performance taking place in the first city to experience nuclear fallout with the initial playwright being of Russian descent is blatantly clear.
Multiple actors are chomping at the bits during a tough audition process for the chance to work under the tutelage of the great Kafuku, including a deaf theater actor utilizing sign language. I will let you discover this characters amazing story and connection to the high-paid agents. The biggest piece is Kafuku casting Koshi Takatsuki (Masaki Okada) for the titular role of the show. Only issue, Takatsuki is a hot-headed Asian television star who was sleeping with Kafuku’s wife on the side up until the moment she died. Kafuku knows this. He also knows this is the the best actor for this particular role in this situation.
And then the humanistic element is presented. Mr. Kafuku is so important to the success of this very expensive multi-week long showcase that the producers will not allow the genius to drive himself to and from work. Company policy. Kafuku, while he insists on his personal car utilized, has a young adult named Misaki (Toko Miura) driving his all-star status ass around no matter the time of day.
The driver keeps things close to the chest. It takes a long time for the two broken humans to muster up the guts to lay it out in front of a person you do not trust. How does a famous theater director find the inspiration to hike into the mountains just to see his driver’s family home that was burned down as part of a war crime? Why would he care?
“Drive My Car” is not about serious political undertones in the end. Even though that is blatantly there. This is a journey concerned mostly with forgiveness, in particular the hard-minded individuals who grow from change that is unwelcome as well as unexpected.
Suck Factor: 0 out of 7 (7 Means Your Movie Really SUCKS!)
The SUCK FACTOR! How it works. We have flipped the script on the standard rating system. If you make a masterpiece, such as “The Godfather”, your film receives 0 SUCKS! If you make absolute garbage like any Michael Bay movie, you receive a ‘perfect’ 7 as your movie truly SUCKS!