RYUSUKE HAMAGUCHI'S OSCAR-WINNING FILM 'DRIVE MY CAR' REVIEW
Adapted from a Murakami novel, Drive My Car won the Best International Feature Film in Oscar 2022. What is the film about?
Drive My Car became the center of attention at the 94th Academy Awards as it is the first Japanese film nominated for the Best Picture category. However, it only managed to snatch a win in Best International Feature Film.
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Adapted from Haruki Murakami’s novel, Drive My Car is a 3-hour long slow-paced drama about the main character’s journey to cope with the death of his wife. The screenplay was written by Takamasa Oe, with Ryusuke Hamaguchi leading at the helm of directing.
Drive My Car's dark and gloomy plot
Played by Hidetoshi Nishijima, the lead character Yusuke Kafuku is portrayed as a well-known avant-garde dramaturg who is deeply in love with his wife, Oto Kafuku (Reika Kirishima). His life balance depends heavily on her presence. But then, out of nowhere, Oto dies of a brain hemorrhage.
One haunting premise of the story is, not long before her departure, Yusuke silently witnesses Oto having intercourse with someone else. However, he does nothing about it, nor does he say a single word of protest. He just walks away, then pretends everything is normal until the day she dies.
The movie gradually uncovers the multifaceted natures and emotions of all the main characters. Viewers have to spend about two hours to find out if Yusuke is really okay with her wife’s affair. Only in the last quarter of the film could we know that he is actually devastated inside, regardless of his indifferent demeanour.
Yusuke is actually overwhelmed with grief and regrets, but he copes with it by not responding to his emotions ever so slightly. That is until 2 years later he travels to Hiroshima for a theater project, where he meets with individuals from various backgrounds with all sorts of different motivations and philosophies.
A defining moment between the main characters
Due to the project’s extensive tempo, Yusuke chooses to drive his beloved red Saab 900 Turbo instead of taking a plane. However, the organizer requires him to have a driver, which he refuses at first as the car is very special to him, hence entrusting a stranger to drive it is not a possibility. That is how Yusuke gets introduced to Misaki Watari, played by Toko Miura.
Misaki is an enigmatic character who barely says a single line and shows just as minuscule variations of expressions. Even so, the two end up enjoying each other’s acquaintances.
Many of the screen time in the second stage of the film take place in the car. The Saab 900 Turbo is as emblematic and personified to Drive My Car as Black Pearl is to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Nearly every crucial reveal occurs in the car.
The climax, in which Yusuke discovers that Oto's secret lover Koji Takatsuki (Masaki Okada) may have held a special place in Oto's heart, is one detail that stands out. But that reveal only leads the story towards a better ending as it adds up to all the stress that has been piling up, which drives Yusuke to go for a getaway for several days with Misaki.#THE S MEDIA #Media Milenial #Drive My Car #Oscar #Best International Feature Film