“But even if you think you know someone well, even if you love that person deeply, you can’t completely look into that person’s heart. You’ll just feel hurt.”

Kôshi Takatsuki

Adapted from Haruki Murakami’s short story, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi has crafted a gentle and moving meditation on regret and guilt, explored against a backdrop of storytelling and finding the truth through fiction. I adore Murakami’s writing, but translating his sense of wistful melancholy to the screen is not straightforward. Hamaguchi achieves this by allowing us to spend the first half hour examining the relationship between Yûsuke Kafuku and his wife Oto, before shifting to the time period of the short story in which he converses with the driver assigned to him whilst directing a play. The multicultural production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya provides the film’s texture, its musings about the painfulness of life forcing the actors and director to reckon with their own emotional turmoil. Drive My Car is paced deliberately slowly, its characters reluctant to reveal their motivations (most notably Kafuku’s decision to cast his wife’s younger lover in the play), but its three hour running time demands considerable patience and around half an hour could have been excised without losing any content. However, it is those languid drives that allow the audience — as much as Kafuku — to ponder people and events. It is also during these journeys that Drive My Car reveals its unusual approach to intimacy through the sharing of stories in contrast to sex which serves to distance characters.