The film Drive My Car has had huge success since its release in November 2021. It's based on the short story collection titled 女のいない男たち (Men Without Women) by acclaimed author, Murakami Haruki. Over the three-hour long period several different storylines play out around the main character, Kafuku Yūsuke, and those around him. Many scenes take place inside of his red Saab 900 car, which becomes an iconic focal point from the very beginning. Without giving too much away, the main themes of the movie are passion, creative growth, retribution for wrongdoings, and self-forgiveness.
Watching this film, it's easy to see how it became such a big hit. The overall cinematography is stunning, with beautiful scenes of Japanese roadways and natural backdrops. The acting is incredible throughout and leaves you feeling for each character in different ways. At times, this film can be slow-moving and challenging to follow, but if you can push past that, the winding roads of the plot will take you on an emotional journey.
A large portion of the film focuses on the production of a play the group is putting on, oftentimes the language used can be poetic and lyrical.
Unless you're familiar with the plot already, you may want to consider watching this film with Japanese or English subtitles. Because a large portion of the film focuses on the production of a play the group is putting on, oftentimes the language used can be poetic and lyrical. The scenes involving the play also involve other languages, like Korean, Mandarin, German, and Tagalog. Subtitles are automatically included for these languages, so you may be doing a fair share of reading along anyway. With English subtitles, this film can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter their level of Japanese knowledge. If you're at an intermediate level and want to test out your listening abilities, I'd recommend trying without subtitles at first and seeing how you feel. As of March 2022, the movie is still playing at theaters inside and outside Japan while it is also available on several streaming services. US residents with a subscription to HBO Max can enjoy this film for free!