Drive My Car

2021, Japan, 179 min. (subtitled)

An aging, renowned Japanese stage actor (Hideyoshi Nishijima) directs a production of Uncle Vanya in faraway Hiroshima, another opportunity for him to retreat into an artistic bubble built by tragedy and 20 years of simmering grief. His stasis gets challenged when he is required by his client to use a chauffeur (Tôko Miura), a stoic young woman who carries her own emotional load. That (literal) change in perspective unlocks a slow, emotional awakening, which we see through his conversations with his lead actor (Masaki Okada) and the driver. Director and co-writer Ryûsuke Yamaguchi’s Oscar-winning drama is languidly paced, which gives the proceedings an existential wallop as the characters confront the roles fate has saddled them with. More than an exploration of art vs. life or a treatise on grief, Drive My Car is an uncompromising, beautiful film about the necessity and beauty of living an honest, open life at any age.