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  • Amir Steklov

Drive My Car - (2020)

Director: David Bruckner.

Drive My Car is a Japanese melodrama based on Haruki Murakami's short story with the same title. Just saying "Melodrama based on Murakami" sounds odd... I didn't read this particular story but I read many of his books, 2 of them last month. So, I think I have a good understanding of his style and themes. The film does feel sometimes like an adaptation of his writing: Focusing on side characters, dealing with sex and death, paying homage to classic European art & literature - but not using it to obviously as a metaphor. My favorite character was the car driver, she is the most Murakamiesque character in the film. My biggest problem with this film (and maybe the short story?!) Is the lack of magic-realism. I came to expect that from Murakami, but without it, the story feels just like another melodrama. The main character (the actor-director) is good, but in the most important scene his performance is not great (in Hokkaido when he cries in the snow with the car driver) Another thing that didn't work for me is the plot point when the police arrests the young actor. I was also disappointed from the cinematography, it was just okay but they also used this ugly fake Kodak 2383 LUT which is over-used nowadays and it's anything but original. There are some brilliant moments: using eyedrops - "fake tears", showing a special moment between actresses during a rehearsal in a very cinematic way (close-ups and mise-en-scene) then the director says "now we need to make it visible to the audience in the theater" - the subtext is that cinema can capture special moments that theater struggles with. Music was minimalist and nice, but sound design was empty of character. I also didn't understand the ending: why the car driver is in Korea buying groceries in the supermarket and driving with the dog of the Korean family?

Overall, I enjoyed watching the film and would recommend it, but it's not a masterpiece.

Verdict: 3.5 / 5 ★ - Nice.

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