Drive My Car is about an actor and theatre director (Hidetoshi Nishijima) who is grieving the death of his wife (Reika Kirishima) while directing a play at a theatrical residency programme. It is based on a short tale by acclaimed writer Haruki Murakami.
‘Drive My Car‘ makes the most of its long – three hours! – runtime by telling a thorough, hauntingly beautiful, and intricate storey. The camera lingers on actors after practically every shot, dragging out the action for maximum effect.
‘Drive My Car’ is based on Haruki Murakami’s short tale of the same name from the 2014 collection ‘Men without Women.’ Director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (‘Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy’) discovered that the original short storey didn’t have enough material for a feature film, so he included pieces from two more stories from ‘Men without Women’: ‘Scheherazade’ and ‘Kino.’
He also significantly incorporated ‘Uncle Vanya’ into the storey, which was quite simple given that Chekov’s play is already included in Murakami’s novel. Alienation is a key topic in Murakami’s short stories and ‘Uncle Vanya,’ and it is also a major issue in Hamaguchi’s ‘Drive My Car.’
Love, loss, grief, regret, and acceptance are among the topics explored in the film. Here’s all you need to know about the show’s conclusion.
‘Drive My Car’ (2021) Movie Plot
Hidetoshi Nishijima (Yûsuke Kafuku) is an actor who currently works solely on stage. Oto (Reika Kirishima), his wife, is a scriptwriter. They appear to be in a good, happy relationship. However, beneath the surface, there is a strong sense of bereavement.
In February 2001, their daughter died of pneumonia. At the time, she was only four years old. They haven’t talked about having more children much since then.
Oto isn’t interested, and Kafuku sees no reason to want something that his wife doesn’t. He’s supposed to be on his way out of town for jury service. When his trip is delayed owing to a cold wave, he returns home to find his wife having sex on their marriage bed with young actor Kôshi Takatsuki (Masaki Okada). S
he had introduced Kafuku to Kôshi after his performance in a bilingual production of ‘Waiting for Godot,’ stating that the latter frequently collaborated with her.
Kafuku chooses to remain silent because he is afraid of losing Oto if he confronts her about her cheating. After a minor car accident, he is diagnosed with glaucoma. Oto arrives at the hospital, behaving normally and showing genuine concern for him.
They have intercourse that night after they come home, and Oto repeats the storey she started telling him in the first scene. The plot appears to indicate that she is aware that Kafuku is aware of her infidelity at this point in the film.
The next morning, Oto informs Kafuku that she wants to chat with him later that evening. Kafuku postpones his return home, fearful that their relationship would be irreparably altered if Oto tells him everything she has to say.
When he eventually arrives, he discovers that his wife perished in his absence from a cerebral haemorrhage. Kafuku experiences a nervous breakdown during a second performance of ‘Uncle Vanya,’ in which he plays the main character.
After two years, Kafuku accepts a residency in Hiroshima. He’ll be directing an ‘Uncle Vanya’ production. He travels in his crimson 1987 Saab 900 Turbo. However, he is informed that as long as he is linked with the organisers, he will be required to go with a driver due to a previous accident caused by another artist.
This is how Kafuku (Tôko Miura) meets Misaki Watari (Kafuku). As Kafuku discovers, his new driver, who is silent and stoic, is an expert at her profession. Kafuku’s red Saab is an ancient automobile with several flaws. Despite this, Watari learns to drive the car fast and without causing any discomfort to her passenger.
Meanwhile, Kafuku hires actors who can speak Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, and other languages for the multilingual play. He also employs a deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly de She’s eventually revealed to be one of the organisers’ wife.
Due to the age gap between the actor and the character, Kafuku ends up casting Takatsuki, his wife’s final lover, in the role of the titular character, much to the astonishment of Takatsuki and everyone else.
Why Does Misaki Watari Have Yûsuke Kafuku’s Red Saab at the End of Drive My Car?
Watari is in South Korea at the end of the film, where the COVID-19 Pandemic is in full force. Between this scene and the one before it, it appears that some time has passed off-screen.
Watari goes grocery shopping before getting into her red Saab, which is greeted by a dog. Watari drives through an open road in the last scenes of the film.
The film’s plot is relatively straightforward, unlike the original storey, where we learn of Kafuku’s wife’s infidelity when he speaks about it to Watari.
This may have caused some problems for Hamaguchi and his team, as their secondary protagonist isn’t introduced until 45 minutes into the movie. They counteract this by making the prologue almost 40 minutes long.
Watari, like Kafuku, is plagued by her history. She grew up in a Hokkaido village. Her father had abandoned her, and her mother had been abusive. She chose not to save her mother during a landslide, which has haunted her ever since.
Her mother had dissociative identity disorder (DID). She often imagined herself as Sachi, a little girl. Watari claims that Sachi inherited all of her mother’s good characteristics. Watari knew she was condemning Sachi when she opted not to bring her mother out before the avalanche, yet she still did it.
For the most of the film, both Watari and Kafuku punish themselves. For not returning to his house sooner, the latter believes he caused Oto’s death. Watari and Kafuku go to the former’s village near the end of the film to see the ruins of what used to be Watari’s home.
The wrecked mansion was covered in snow, like the carcass of a massive beast. Both Watari and Kafuku confront their pasts while standing by them, earning the ability to move on.
Watari now owns the red Saab, which means Kafuku gave it to her. The car served as a physical link between him and Oto. He shows that he has moved on by letting it go. Watari, also, has moved to Korea in quest of a better life.
She now owns a dog and is free of the facial scar left by her mother. There will always be difficulties in life. Watari, on the other hand, is only thinking about the future as she drives down a wide and bright road.
Why did Yusuke Kafuku Agree to take on the Role of Uncle Vanya in the Movie?
As previously stated, Kafuku’s last attempt to play Vanya failed miserably. He is an honest enough actor to recognise and declare that he is not prepared to go through the agony of portraying Chekov’s characters. However, as the film unfolds, his attitude toward his guilt gradually shifts.
If Watari, who is the same age as Kafuku’s daughter, would have been if she were alive, is one of the reasons, Takatsuki is another. The loss of Oto has left the younger guy despondent.
Furthermore, his career has suffered considerably as a result of his bad behaviour. He appears to be looking for Kafuku in an attempt to find himself, but he finds up on a path of self-destruction that leads to the point of no return. Takatsuki is apprehended after the guy he assaulted succumbs to his injuries.
Following that, the organisers inform Kafuku that he has two options: cancel the concert or play Vanya himself. Kafuku appears to acquire the strength to face his past and welcome the inevitable changes in his life after visiting Watari’s tribe.
When it came to his wife, Kafuku used to believe that uncertainty was preferable to knowing, as in Chekov’s play, because he would at least have hope. False hope, on the other hand, frequently leads to stagnation. Kafuku develops the ability to rise above it. After deciding on the second choice, he has trouble portraying Vanya. He gives a credible performance by being honest with himself and his emotions.
Where Can I Watch ‘Drive My Car’ Online?
Thankfully, there are now a few ways to watch Drive My Car online. It’s available to stream on HBO Max, so if you’re already a subscriber, that’s your best bet.
It can also be rented or purchased through iTunes, Amazon Prime, and Vudu. All you have to do now is set aside three hours, brace yourself for some emotional roller coasters, and start watching.
It's been a busy 2 months, yet I still can't stop thinking about #DriveMyCar since seeing it in early Feb. Whatever happens at #TheOscars, Ryusuke Hamaguchi and the cast & crew should be so proud. Such an incredible, moving film — one of my favourites of the last several years. pic.twitter.com/sfEAxLYoU7
— Brad Shankar (@bradshankar) March 24, 2022