Drive My Car Extended at the Harris: A Message from the Curator

Fri, Feb 4, 2022

Written by: Joseph Morrison

It was recently announced the fan favorite Drive My Car will remain at the Harris Theater for another two-week run until Feb. 17. In this special message from film curator Joseph Morrsion, he elaborates on his decision to extend the film's time at the theater and why everyone needs to see it. 

Feb. 8 Update: I'm excited to revise my opening paragraph this morning. The original opening talked about the Academy Awards official nominations announcement, what to expect, and the excitement that comes each year with this process.

And in fact there were some surprises... no Lady Gaga in the Best Actress category, no Best Director for Dune's Dennis Villeneuve. But two Best Supporting Actor nominations for Power of the Dog — didn't see that coming. One of the biggest surprises was the growing strength of a foreign language film from Japan, a film that scored a nomination in three big categories: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture. That film, Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car, is in fact now playing at the Harris Theater!

Here's the full description of the film:

Two years after his wife's unexpected death, Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima), a renowned stage actor and director, receives an offer to direct a production of Uncle Vanya at a theater festival in Hiroshima. There, he meets Misaki Watari (Toko Miura), a taciturn young woman assigned by the festival to chauffeur him in his beloved red Saab 900. As the production's premiere approaches, tensions mount amongst the cast and crew, not least between Yusuke and Koji Takatsuki, a handsome TV star who shares an unwelcome connection to Yusuke's late wife. Forced to confront painful truths raised from his past, Yusuke begins — with the help of his driver — to face the haunting mysteries his wife left behind. And so, this story unfolds at a deliberate pace over the course of its three hour runtime. But it never drags!

Hamaguchi creates a quiet tension that comes with important character reveals spread out among beautiful shots and scenes, weaving a story that expands and contracts over time in a way that can leave you breathless. I think it's a different style than most American films use, and it's obvious if we simply compare some of the other films up for Best Picture: West Side Story, Dune, Being the Ricardos, Don't Look Up, King Richard, and Belfast. Power of the Dog comes closest in terms of matching Hamaguchi's style and pace. I'm not being needlessly critical about the films likely to be nominated but do think it's fair to say that they're just different. More bombastic, broader characterizations, and less quiet would be fair descriptions of those films. But if we're searching for an immersive experience in film, sitting in a darkened theater and letting time slip away while you enter another world, being transformed as you exit the auditorium, Drive My Car simply can't be beat. Justin Chang, in his review for NPR said "It's an intricately structured drama about love and loss, and the ways in which art can and can't compensate for some of life's disappointments. I'll be surprised if I see a more absorbing movie this year, or a better one."

Will it manage to take home Best Picture on March 27? We'll see!

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