Awarded the Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival, Drive My Car, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s new film, is now screened in French cinemas. DashFUN was able to speak with the Japanese director about this new romantic drama.
In theaters this August 18, Drive My Car is the new film by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, known for Senses and Asako I & II. This romantic and mysterious road movie adapted from the eponymous short story of the collection Men without women by Haruki Murakami tells how actor and director Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) will recover from a personal drama thanks to the help of his new assigned driver Misaki (Tōko Miura) and his new theater troupe.
Drive My Car was in official competition at the Cannes Film Festival this year and won 3 awards: Screenplay Prize, Fipresci Prize and Ecumenical Prize. DashFUN was able to meet with Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi before the closing ceremony.
DashFUN: What made you want to adapt Haruki Murakami’s new “Drive My Car”?
Ryusuke Hamaguchi: The project started in 2018 when my producer, Mr. Yamamoto, came to see me after the release of Asako I & II to offer to work on the adaptation of another Murakami short story and it turns out that I didn’t really like the news he presented to me. I didn’t feel comfortable fitting it to the screen.
On the other hand, I read “Drive My Car” in 2013 at the time of the book’s release and I told him that this news seemed to have some connection with my work. There was this idea of a moving vehicle and the possibility of conversation inside that vehicle. There was also the issue of acting that interests me and that I had already addressed in my work.
What did you want to highlight the most in your adaptation of Drive My Car? Finally, the scenes in the car are moments of a little suspended connection, which inevitably bring Kafuku and Misaki together, but which allow the more choral sequences to be intersected.
Theater stages are Kafuku’s professional and social moments. There is something more private, more intimate about the car scenes. In this space is Misaki with whom Kafuku will bond. But initially, there is ultimately no point of convergence between the two.
We need a sequence, that of the dinner at the house of this couple of the Korean playwright and his wife, which will serve as a trigger for Kafuku who will testify to his curiosity for Misaki and she will realize the appreciation he could have on she.
But the film had been constructed that way, indeed, with a pause, a movement, a pause, a movement. This is what structures the entire narrative of the film, it is a mixture of scenes of relationships between the characters in the car and the advancement of the plot around these sequences.
I believe that here fiction has a revealing function because reality is not enough to explain certain things that we experience or that we feel. We need to go through the story, through the story, through something fictional in order to be able to give birth to our own truth.
It’s true that the dinner scene is great, it’s even one of my favorites. Other sequences are incredible in the film, like those of the performances in the theater. How were they prepared?
My ambition was to make the most of the space, both in terms of movement but also with the idea of exploiting the scene in 360 degrees. Not only the scene filmed from the front, but also to be able to change point of view and film the room. Filming a theater scene is an interesting challenge because there are a lot of potentials and a lot of possibilities.
Afterwards, it’s true that for these sequences, we did some repetitions whereas we usually do very little. In this case, for these sequences, we met the day before the shooting to see together, at least in its entirety, how the movements on the stage would take place so that we had the impression that there was has a commitment over the entire space of the stage.
You play with the notions of fiction and reality through art, the professions of screenwriter, actor, director, playwright, etc. in a quest for truth. Was it important to …