Haruki Murakami’s well-loved books have been the basis for several big-screen adaptations over the years, with variable results. But the latest has attracted nearly unanimous acclaim: “Drive My Car,” from a short story by the writer. It’s the rare successful adaptation that stands firmly on its own as a sophisticated film, and it puts a fresh spotlight on its director, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, as a major talent.
The source for “Drive My Car” runs no more than 40 pages. It’s about a theater actor named Yusuke Kafuku, who gets a personal driver and makes an unexpected friend, an actor who was one of his late wife’s lovers. Out of the Murakami tale’s ambling reflections on regret and performance, Hamaguchi spins something grander yet no less intimate: a multilayered, unpredictable three-hour drama that tends to leave viewers reinvigorated.
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