9.5/10 The only Japanese film ever nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, not only is this the Best Picture out of all the nominees, but also my pick for the Best Film of 2021. “Drive My Car” was also nominated for Best Director, Best Foreign Film (which it won) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Before I get into the review I thought I would mention that this is a depressing, three hour long Japanese film. If you don’t like foreign films/subtitles, sad films or films that are quite long, this might not be your cup of green tea, despite how incredible this film is. I’m happy that I enjoy foreign films and the run time doesn’t matter at all so long as the film is well made and worth viewing. Even though I’ve attached the trailer to this review as I do for everything I review, I think I benefitted from not watching the trailer before seeing the film and knowing next to nothing about it. If you haven’t watched the trailer, I urge you not to so you can go in completely fresh. I won’t even get too much into the story but I will say that this was the most moving emotional experience I had in a movie theater for any film that came from 2021. There is a cloud of sorrow and regret that hangs over the entire film from the very beginning. While this film is a somber one, don’t let that turn you off. The writing is worthy of its nomination as the dialogue is deep and meaningful without ever becoming pretentious. The direction is phenomenal and despite the film’s length, the pacing worked well for me as I never checked my phone to see the time. One scene is just two men talking in the back of a car and while it must have been ten minutes long, I was so enthralled by their conversation that despite subconsciously knowing that the scene was long, I didn’t care at all. The score is subtle but powerfully assists the mood and tone that co-writer/director Ryusuke Hamaguchi created. The performances are pitch perfect with a woman who never utters a word but uses sign language being one of the standouts. Our leading man rarely smiles, as he has suffered great loss in his life but you feel his pain every step of the way. There isn’t a weak performance in the acting chain and these characters are memorable and deeply human. “Drive My Car” is one of those rare moments that feels more like an experience than a movie. There isn’t one aspect of the production elements (costume design, production design, soundtrack) that falls short and I found myself in tears near the film’s ending. Sometimes long, sad films lack replayability as you may not want to feel depressed for three hours again but I can’t help but want to rewatch this and appreciate the beautiful film making on display here that makes me want to check out Hamaguchi’s other films. Despite some strong competition from films like “CODA”, “Drive My Car” is the best film of 2021.

#OtoErotica / #SaabStory / #MudSlideIntoMyLife / #UnsungHiroshima / #DriveToDespair / #OtoRepair

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