The keys to enjoying ‘Drive My Car’


Ryosuke Hamaguchi’s Movie, Based on a Story by Japanese Writer Murakami, Arrives at Filmin

What has been most repeated about ‘Drive My Car’, Ryosuke Hamaguchi’s proposal, is its duration. It is noteworthy that it lasts up to three hours, but that should not be an obstacle to discover this great work of contemporary cinema. It is a story of loss and grief that offers comfort. A film in which languages ​​and words play a leading role, but silence does even more. And if you like, also an update on that famous phrase from Jean-Luc Godard: to make a movie all you need is a girl and a car. Following his arrival at Filmin, we are breaking the keys around this year’s Oscar for Best International Film.

who is your manager

Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, a Japanese filmmaker, will have a hard time forgetting 2021. In February last year he won the Berlin Bear with ‘The Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy’ and in the summer ‘Drive My Car’ premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The flood of awards he garnered with this film culminated with the Oscar just a few weeks ago and while this success has certainly put him on the movie map, Hamaguchi has had a long career. Trained at Tokyo University of the Arts, this devoted admirer of Cassavettes has refined his style film after film while exploring the most extreme images. In the case of ‘Drive My Car’ 180 minutes are needed for the two protagonists, injured and scarred by absence, to recognize each other. Kafuku is a playwright who has lost his wife and Misaki is the young host who has to take him to rehearsals for his new project. They will travel and share conversations.

Why did he want to modify Murakami?

The dramatic germ of ‘Drive My Car’ comes from ‘Men Without Women’, a storybook published by Murakami in 2014. Hamaguchi found its protagonists in the scant fifty pages of the eponymous story, adding elements and characters from other stories in the collection. , such as ‘Sherazade’ and ‘Kino’. He began writing with screenwriter Takamasa Oe and together they created this delicate chronicle of the coexistence between the living and the dead, the human need to meet the other and the healing refuge that art represents. On his international journey, adapting Murakami, the foremost living author in Japan, has resulted in a major media claim, especially when we consider that this is an independently produced film and that the budget does not exceed $1.3 million . The seal of the writer managed to transcend.

the mainstage

After the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Tōhoku in 2011, Hamaguchi visited this Japanese region to interview several survivors. During these long journeys, the director realized the mise-en-scene that a car journey entails and its dramatic potential: the driver and passenger do not have to look at each other and can therefore say things that they would never confess face to face. be face. Later, Murakami’s words caused him to regain this intuition and materialize it in a red Saab 900 that has become the visual motif of the film. For Hamaguchi, this car is used for the most obvious and literal (the characters move), but also to introduce subtleties that shape the emotion. And it’s that the vehicle becomes a sort of shelter for the protagonists, one where the voice of the absent still resonates through the tapes recorded by Kafuku’s wife, who died two years earlier. The coexistence of so many miles encourages a slow rapprochement between the playwright and the driver. The car sometimes seems to be in a limbo, on the edge of reality, where time passes differently.

The multilingual theatre

‘Drive My Car’ is a movie with a play in it, but that brings us back to the world of cinema. Kafuku, who is preparing the production of Chekhov’s uncle Vanya, selects an international cast that speaks several languages ​​(Chinese, Tagalog, Japanese and Korean Sign Language). On stage, each actor plays in his native language while the audience reads the translated text on a screen. This linguistic diversity occurred in front of and behind the camera, so between takes the actors had to communicate through a team of interpreters. On a trip to the United States when he had not yet mastered English, Hamaguchi found that he did not understand what was being said to him, but he did understand the emotion of the person speaking to him. His approach to multilingual theater is based on that same essence, placing a group of performers who cannot understand each other, but who do recognize the meaning of the subtext.

flat reading

“The method is to read a text exactly as if you were reading the phone book. No expression is allowed.” Director Jean Renoir tells actress Gisèle Braunberger in a short documentary shot in 1968, an idea that inspired Hamaguchi to work in this way. Also in this aspect the game between reality and fiction is repeated. During the preparation of the film, the actors rehearsed the script as their characters learn from Uncle Vania: they sit around a table and read its lines over and over, mastering the cadence of the dialogue. “Focus on the text. You just have to read,” Kafuku tells one of Uncle Vania’s actors.

What does this story tell us now?

At the moment, very few fictions are interested in including the pandemic in their stories, perhaps because the cinema prefers to preserve the privilege of inhabiting a different reality. Instead, the filming of this movie was crossed by Covid and the virus finally appears and irreparably entrenches the unease of its protagonists in our time. How not to appreciate the connection between two people, how not to empathize with the pain of the other.

Source: La Verdad


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