Review of Drive My Car (2021)
Seen in 2024.
A theatre actor drives to Hiroshima for an eight-week residency.
I expected an interrogation of the affectless acting style the main character prefers. He uses it even when he isn’t acting. He’s challenged by a couple of sad stories, followed by a catharsis where he breaks his style and emotes more. This implies the usual symbolism: Affectlessness as a realistic code for depression or disconnection. That doesn’t quite work for me on the symbolic level, although the drama is nicely crafted. I was hoping the writer or director would tie the choice of style into the artificiality of Chekhov’s writing, typical of early modernism. Instead, even minor characters like Yuhara (Abe Satoko’s theatre liaison) are unnaturally affectless, which suggests to me that director Hamaguchi wants to associate himself with the high bourgeois status of the tradition around Chekhov.