Drive My Car

Director: Ryūsuke Hamaguchi
Year Released: 2021
Rating: 3.5

Professional actor Yūsuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) has been really going through some tough times: he and his screenwriter wife Oto (Reika Kirishima) lost a child, he pops in on her having an affair with fellow actor Kōji Takatsuki (Masaki Okada) and then he's diagnosed with glaucoma in his left eye; after Oto dies from a cerebral hemorrhage, he accepts a two month residency as director of a theater doing Uncle Vanya, except they won't let him drive his beloved red Saab 900 Turbo, assigning him taciturn Watari (Tōko Miura) as his chauffeur.  It's loosely adapted from a short story from (inexplicably acclaimed) writer Haruki Murakami, but then Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe just riff off the idea (jazz style!): Kafuku casts Takatsuki in the play (as Vanya) to try to understand (and mentor) him, he visits the house where Watari's family died, and then he takes over the role of Vanya, because destiny is a funny thing.  Despite being kind of a long voyage, I feel it captures that "nocturnal ennui" Murakami's known for - it embraces both silence and sadness - and ultimately becomes about finding a way to forgive someone no longer around to hear you.