Drive My Car
This is a widely praised film where critics say you won’t notice it lasts 3 hours. I did!
Despite its unnecessary length, critics have gone bat shit crazy over this film. Some have picked it as the best film of the year (Toronto film critics), and A.O. Scott of The New York Times noted, “The movie lasts almost three hours, but the time passes easily.”
No, it doesn’t! While it could have been a great two-hour movie, its length bored me to the point where it came close to diluting its emotional ending.
Don’t get me wrong as the movie tells an intriguing story if you can avoid being forced to hide in its cinematic weeds. Hidetoshi Nishijima plays Yusuke Kafuku, a Tokyo theater actor who is trying to overcome his grief following the death of his wife, a screen writer. He agrees to direct Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima to try and find some normalcy.
The movie unfolds when he is forced by the plays financial backers to have a driver at all times. Forced to swallow his pride, his relationship with the driver, played wonderfully by Toko Miura, defines the film. Both have suffered terrible losses, and they learn that life involves overcoming despair.
Though the film suffers from being forced to endure repeated scenes focusing on stage production, you are rewarded by the performance of Park Yurim. She plays a deaf actress who gives a monologue in Korean sign language to Yusuke that teaches him that he must keep living.
As noted above, the movie has some tremendous power that is diluted when Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi failed to edit it down to no more than two hours. With the film having the actors speak in Mandarin, Japanese and Tagalog, you lose nothing reading subtitles.
Let me close with my severe trouble with many of today’s critics. They seem to forget that movies risk losing their heart and soul when they fail to entertain. That is the very problem when they fall over themselves gushing over tedious films like Spencer, Power of the Dog, The Lost Daughter, and this unnecessarily lengthy film.
There is a reason that CODA and Belfast are the best movies of 2021. Guess why.