Whether to watch the film "Sit behind the wheel of my car" by Haruki Murakami – critic's review – Poster Plus – Saint-Petersburg News.

Get behind the wheel of my car: Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima

Get behind the wheel of my car: Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima

At the box office, Drive My Car is a worldwide box office hit and one of the most successful Japanese films of recent years, having entered both the Cannes competition and the list of Oscar winners. Although a wide audience, perhaps, will be much more attracted not by these merits, but by a literary source: Get behind the wheel is based on the short story of the same name by Haruki Murakami, a writer who has been globally popular for the second decade.

Murakami's story has been translated into Russian – it is included in the collection Men Without Women, all the short stories of which are united by the theme of the loss of the main love of life. The story is simple and concise. The theater director is experiencing a deep spiritual crisis and agrees to stage Chekhov's Uncle Vanya for the festival in Hiroshima. But it is not the staging itself that pulls him out of the crisis, but communication with a personal driver assigned by the organizers. That, in fact, is all.

It was not for nothing that Ryusuke Hamaguchi received the prize at Cannes for the best script – and he got into the Oscar shortlist precisely as a playwright. “Get behind the wheel” is an example of how, based on a short sketch, you can build a thing of an epic scale. Big in every sense: no joke, the movie runs for a solid three hours, and the opening credits pop up on the screen after an hour of intense action. All the details, nuances of Murakami's text – what is mentioned briefly in the story, here becomes part of a large and complex drama.

Photo: video screenshot / YouTube

The background of the protagonist is not told, it is shown: he had a wife, a screenwriter of popular TV shows, a nervous and sensual woman. She cheated on him – and then one day she died, leaving him alone with pain, resentment and guilt. For the main role in Uncle Vanya, the hero chooses the young lover of his late wife – which only emphasizes their impetuous relationship and unresolved conflicts.

But what impresses most in the dramaturgy of Get behind the wheel is not even filigree and the ability to create a large, complex, meditative action from simple material. Rather, it is shocking how Hamaguchi – following Murakami – handles the familiar text of Uncle Vanya. That for the writer Chekhov and Dostoevsky there are bottomless sources of inspiration (along with rock music – the title of the film and the story is proof of this) – it has long been clear. But Chekhov himself has never sounded so unusual, relevant and bright on the screen. In essence, Hamaguchi tackles the entire film as a sort of Uncle Vanya marginal note, a clever variation on the story of a middle-aged man who lost everything.

Photo: Video Screenshot / YouTube

Therefore, the Hamaguti film is especially worthwhile (good, after leaving the main distributors from the Russian film market, the choice is small) to those who believe in the “cancellation” of all Russian culture, which has already raged out, or there are about a lot of such “believers” ). Even if you leave the brackets that the “abolition culture” is a populist stamp: it is impossible to cancel any culture. No one will refuse either Shostakovich’s music, or Dostoevsky’s novels, or Chekhov’s plays – simply because culture itself has no nationality. These texts flew into space, untied from the language and conditions of the area in which they were composed, filled with their new meanings and live independently.

Moreover, it is characteristic that in “Sitting behind the wheel” the hero-director chooses for the roles of all the characters “Uncle Vanya” actors speaking in different languages: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, even the language of gestures. And among themselves outside rehearsals, the actors speak international English, so that in the car, confessing the unexpected soul mate, go to Japanese again.

The institute of registration does not apply to images, feelings, emotions, experiences. “Sitting behind the wheel” – a Japanese film that equally touching the public in France, the States and Russia – this clearly demonstrates and convincingly proves.

Ivan Chuvilyaev, especially for Fontanka.ru

Photo: Video Screenshot / YouTube

Photo: Video Screenshot / YouTube

Photo: Video Screenshot / YouTube

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