Cannes Film Festival 2021 reviewer’s notebook 3: Drive My Car, Bergman Island

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Vicky Krieps in Bergman Island

“I’m not really necessarily interested in performance per se, but in emotion”, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi said Vadim Rizov in 2019 when asked how important the work of Jacques Rivette was to him. The answer more or less said “not very”, which is even more incredible now than his new three-hour adaptation of Murakami, Drive my car, has landed, so engrossed in the art and nuances of rehearsal and performance that the French New Waver will inevitably be the touchstone again assumed by default. Indeed, Drive My car is, with its 40-page source material (found in the 2014 Murakami Short Stories Collection, Men without women), a film about loss, grief and recovery, but its central theme is role-playing, on stage and in relationships with lovers and family. Thus, Hamaguchi and co-writer Takamasa Oe ask their protagonist, actor and director Yusuke (Hidetoshi Nishijima), to get out of the red Saab 900 Turbo in which Murakami has confined him, and to dedicate what must be near. half of the film’s running time inflated to engage in one detail or another of the theatrical production process as Yusuke tries to direct Chekov Uncle Vanya during a theater festival in Hiroshima. This includes story development (which for Yusuke’s late adulterous female screenwriter, Oto, is a stage best initiated by love), auditions, and line readings with the cast – the latter deliberately resist the emotion (which is also Hamaguchi’s own rehearsal process). Yusuke is known for his distinct methodology, and he teaches his actors (and Hamaguchi, in turn, viewers of his film) to ingest the rhythm of the lines first, conveying his belief that ingesting the rhythm of the dialogue is essential. to access the deeper intensities of the material.


Unsurprisingly, Hamaguchi introduces several other important narrative interventions and additions. There’s a new world-building prologue in Tokyo that fleshes out Yusuke’s erotic working relationship with Oto (whose name, aptly speaking, means “sound”) and delays the opening credits of the film somewhere around. its 20 minute mark. The cast of Uncle Vanya the production is now linguistically diverse, with among its Japanese-speaking actors a Taiwanese woman who has to make do with her English and a mute Korean actor who interprets all of his lines in sign language; silence and long pauses, huge devices in Drive my car, worsens its sensual relationship to time and tempo. And while that sounds like a minor change, Hamaguchi reworks the reasoning behind hiring Misaki (Toko Miura) to drive Yusuke’s car – his duties are now imposed on him by his festival, it’s no longer an answer to glaucoma. of Yusuke – and also of – underlines Yusuke’s concern that she was female, which had been a sharp feature of Murakami’s investigation into Japanese gender dynamics. Misaki, of course, ultimately remains the key to the film’s heart, as her deadpan silence and a late lurch in its backstory keeps the film’s conceptual and emotional threads on the role-playing game coming full circle. Hamaguchi is a formidable playwright, already one of the best working today, and although I think he made a mistake in letting so many philosophical angles of the film be spelled out during the final act, before -last scene of the film saves him. Chekov’s language is translated silently: words as physicality, gestures as signs, channeling something that comes close to something real.

As was the case with Hamaguchi other awesome 2021 movie, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, I suspect that Eric Rohmer’s name (and, by extension, Hong’s) will be mentioned frequently in discussions about the introspective and delicious Bergman Island. Set and shot in FÃ¥rö, the Swedish island where director Ingmar Bergman lived and worked for the second half of his life and career, the film features a final part of his 15-year relationship with the former Olivier Assayas, thus continuing his current project. where she dramatizes formative memories and observations of her life. Chris (Vicky Krieps) in their 30s and Tony (Tim Roth) in their 60s are their replacements, who travel to the island for a retrospective on Tony’s work. The two sleep in the bedroom where Bergman shot most of the Scenes from a wedding (1973), who, as their host recalls, “divorced millions of people,” just in case anyone watching this movie didn’t know where we are going. Both look at a 35mm print of Screams and whispers (1972) in Bergman’s personal movie house, to which Chris replies, “I hope he had more fun in his life than in his movies,” both a thoroughly enjoyable response to this movie. , but also an arrow pointing to Bergman Islandthe interests of. While this film is indeed a lament for a Twilight Partnership, it is rather more concerned with the process of translating personal experience into art for the masses. While Tony is sightseeing on tours and screening his work for tourists and die-hard fans (“You’re probably my favorite filmmaker,” he said between signing autographs), Chris had to struggling to complete a new storyline and escapes on impromptu excursions with Hampus, an inhabitant of the island. (Hampus Nordenson).

Hansen-Løve’s storytelling is expressive and, as usual, marked by ellipses. Shooting times and camera movements seem spontaneous and subject to unexpected brevity, intensifying the feeling of memory – the cinema as a mnemonic device clinging to something that fades away. Because the professions of the characters as creators of images are so centralized, the film cannot help but introduce a meta-fictional angle. Chris, one block away from his script, tells the story to Tony in hopes he can help him find an ending. So begins the second half of the film, with new actors (Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie) in ostensibly equally autobiographical roles, with Chris narrating the events to Tony in voiceover. I’m not going to spoil the events that take place in this film inside the film, but the structural vanity works like a charm, as the psychological implications and questions of interpretation explode from every decision and difference – a source of meaning. and feeling, as messy and irrational as the real thing.


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