A poetic journey: “Drive my car”

“What can we do? We have to live! We will live, Uncle Vania. We will have a very long day, a suffocating evening. We will patiently endure all the tests of our destiny.”


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Emin Ukar Ilbuga

Drive My Car, written and directed by Raisuke Hamaguchi and adapted for the screen from Haruki Murakami’s 2014 short story Men Without Women, was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for Japan’s 2022 Oscar. Through this film, Hamaguchi won the Best Screenplay and Film Critics Award in Cannes, where it premiered in 2021 and the 2022 Golden Globe Best Foreign Language Film.

“There is no happy love”

Theater actor and director Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and screenwriter Oto Kafuku (Reika Kirishima) have been in a happy and harmonious relationship for many years. Otto tells stories when he is in love with his wife, forgets the stories he told at night and his wife tells him those stories again in the morning so that the scenes that Otto wrote became more precise. When Yusuke comes home one day, he finds his wife, Oto, in love with a young TV actress. Although Yusuke tries not to feel the frustration of what Oto sees, nothing will be the same as before. The next day, when Yusu has to go to work, Otto says he wants to talk to her. For not having this conversation, Yusuk returns home late that night and when he returns, Oto finds himself unconscious and dies of cerebral hemorrhage.

Chekhov’s uncle Vania’s on-stage multilingual interpretation

It’s been two years since Otto’s death. There is no information in the film about what happened to Yusuke through that process After the funeral, we see that Yusuke has been invited to stage Chekhov’s uncle Vania in Hiroshima, and so we move on to the second part of the movie. For Yusuk, a new environment, new relationships, and an intense work process in Hiroshima, Chekhov’s uncle Vania began to stage the play. Yusuke will first audition for the play, distribute roles to selected actors, support rehearsals, and then be responsible for the play’s theatrical performance. When cultural center managers say they have reserved a place for Yusuk at a hotel one hour away from the city and have arranged a shuttle service to avoid possible accidents due to insurance, Yusuk initially opposes the offer, but admits the driver must own his own car. Uses.

Uncle Vania’s concept, led by Yusuke, is based on the understanding that the text is spoken in different languages. One of the most striking aspects of the movie is that the silent Lee Yoon (Park U-Rim) plays the role of Sonia and the dialogues of the play are given in sign language at the end of the film, such as the multilingualism of the actors auditioning candidates from different Asian countries. In the play, director Yusuke doesn’t want to act as an actor either, and the role of Uncle Vania is given to his wife’s lover Koji Takatsuki (Masaki Okada). However, the young actor opposes the role because he is an old character, and because of the unexpected development of events he has to take on the role himself. Yusuke and young actress Koji fall in love with the same woman, and instead of arguing with each other due to violence, they try to find out the woman they love by talking to each other. Thus, the relationship between Yusuke and his wife Otto, Otto’s boyfriend actor Koji Takatsuki and driver Misaki Watari (Toko Mura), their loss and their clash with privacy is linked to the story of Chekhov’s uncle Vania.


The third episode of the movie turns into a journey through the story of theater director Yusuke and his driver Misaki. In this journey, Chekhov’s work, Yusuk’s inquiries about Misaki’s mother and Otto are intertwined, and the journey sometimes leads to guilt, a conscientious argument, and confrontation with their privacy. Where they express their inner guilt, on the other hand, the text of the play and their stories are intertwined. During the car ride, some of Uncle Vania’s passages are repeated, allowing the relationship between the character’s experience and the text to be re-established.

Misaki, his mother, who works at a nightclub, was the driver at a young age to pick him up and drop him off at the club where he worked at night. Misaki grew up between love and violence because of her mother’s sensitive tide and her mother lost her life even though she survived when a landslide hit the village home where they lived. Before the play was staged, Yusuke and Misaki took a long way to Misaki’s village. In front of their destroyed house outside the snow-covered village, Misaki admits to Yusu that he could have saved his mother but did not. Yusuk tells him that he came home late at night because he was afraid his wife would leave him, where he could have prevented his wife’s death if he had come home on time. Yusuke tells Misaki, “You killed your mother, I killed my wife,” Misaki replies, “Yes.” Yusuke hugs Misaka and says, “Survivors think of the dead, we must live.” They both deal with their confidence as they choose to embark on their play activities, albeit indirectly.

Director and actor Yûsuke Kafuku’s Red Saab 900 Turbo brand Swedish car stands as one of the most important locations in the movie. Red Sub is the place where his wife listens to and memorizes the theatrical texts recorded on the Otto tape, as well as he and his driver Misaki travel between time and mind, disconnecting from the outside world. It is the place where both realize that they have common wounds and express their fears, anxieties and doubts which they cannot express and a strong emotional bond is formed between them.

In the film, Anton Chekhov’s uncle Vania’s passages play an important role in this journey. In a sense, the film is a cinematic interpretation of Uncle Vania’s, where theater, literature and cinema are intertwined, open to inter-textual lessons, and discusses the relationship between husband and wife and children and parents on issues such as love, affection, loyalty, loyalty. . , Guilt, sorrow and conscience, it also happens. In a poetic language based on Chekhov’s story, director Raisuke Hamaguchi invites the audience on a deep and silent journey while discussing concepts such as guilt, deception, guilt, innocence, good and evil. In the first part of the film, Yusuke and his wife Otto’s happy relationship breaks down, and Otto’s death, in the second part, two years later, the director’s journey to Hiroshima and the audition and rehearsal of the drama, his relationship with him. The actor, and finally, his driver in the car with Misaki and Misaki traveling to his village, and the internal accounts of both characters. Thus, with Chekhov’s uncle Vaniya, published in 1897, a poetic work appeared where modern Japanese literary cinema merged with words and visual images on the magical screen of cinema. Drive My Car provides a profound experience that keeps faith and hope alive in cinema, where the poetic language never ceases in the literary journey from Chekhov to Haruki Murakami. The final word about the movie is the final scene of the movie in sign language and the story of Chekhov’s uncle Vania in words:

“What can we do? We have to live! We will live, Uncle Vania. We will have a very long day, a suffocating evening. We will endure all the tests of our destiny. Today and in our old age, we will work and work for others without rest. And when the time of death comes, we will die humbly and there, across the grave, we will say that we have suffered a lot, we have shed tears, we have felt very painful things. And God will have mercy on us and we will have a bright, beautiful, beautiful with you. I will spend my life, my dear uncle, and we will smile and rest here with kindness and tolerance during our illness. I believe it, uncle, I believe with all my heart and passion. “

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