Driving Mr Vanya

Turns out I’ve been doubly remiss, for I saw Drive My Car back at the beginning of May and also haven’t talked about it.  As you might guess by my highlighting of one of its last scenes a few weeks ago, it’s another great movie.

It’s also, in many ways, the 100% opposite of Everything Everywhere All at Once.  DMC is deliciously quiet, understated, and introspective.  True, EEAAO also delves into the philosophical realms, but its epiphanies happen much more extrospectively, with big flash and big moments and in a more plot-driven way than in DMC.  And to be clear that’s not a knock on either film – they’re both exquisite in the way they handle their modes.  DMC starts at a place, sets up a basic concept/conceit (the play within the movie of Uncle Vanya), and then lets it fold upon itself in several ways in a beautiful reverse-origami where it completes as a cathartic unfolding for the characters and their journeys.

These plays (the twin meaning is appropriate here) and double-plays are what really sets this film on a pedestal.  Moments where we aren’t sure whether it’s the character or the text speaking, where actions are metaphorically resonant with the grander story, where references can be both callbacks and callforwards, and the broader conceits not only of the narrative itself but also the ways of the characters – such as Kafuku’s method of letting the text be the text until it emerges within you full form.  Each and all are replete with implications and meaning.

This is also a film that is not afraid to take its time so we can just be with the characters and let all we’ve seen sink in.  Things develop slowly and thus believably; movement is earned.

To carry such a straightforward and understated movie to fruition places a lot onto the actors, and so its perhaps unnecessary to say that DMC is indeed superbly acted.

And the inclusion/integration of the multi-lingual aspects (and, natch, how that ties into all the themes and layers) is intriguing and brilliant.

This is one very cool movie.  I enjoyed it immensely.  Hearty, sincere, eloquent, poignant, reserved yet piercing, and emotionally gripping.  I give DMC an Excellent and strongly recommend it.

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