”Driving My Car” is a big, small, long and short movie.
Great, not only describes the variety of content and the complexity of the characters, but also describes the high praise from the outside world. Like every major competition Asian film in recent years, this new film by Ryusuke Hamaguchi won the highest score in the show as soon as it debuted in Cannes. But it is like Li Cangdong’s “Burning”, only won the best screenplay award. Just like “Burning” at the time, this movie was born out of Haruki Murakami’s short story of the same name, and then reflected the multiple texts that followed. “Burning” is adapted from “Burning a Warehouse”, and Haruki Murakami himself draws on Faulkner’s “Burning a Horse Stable”. Li Cangdong borrowed from Murakami’s story to express Faulkner’s core. “Driving My Car” also expresses the same grand literary ambitions. Ryusuke Hamaguchi borrowed three short stories by Haruki Murakami, and tried to reach it after mixing them out. It was Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. The bigness is also the dazzling feeling it brings to people. Five or six story lines, nearly ten languages, and dozens of stories were presented on the screen for the first time, like the empty space of Hiroshima and Tokyo where the male protagonist family portrait drove and wandered.
But the film is also so small. This is the low degree of completion of the film at the end, the fragmentation of the story, and the indelible sense of mystery. This kind of small nature is just a relative concept and feeling. If it does not have its bigness, this kind of smallness does not hold. Only after sitting quietly in the theater for three hours, and finally watching the many story lines condense like this, did I feel a kind of absurdity and barrenness. The huge house and stage finally turned out to be such an empty fantasy house. The Hiroshima, language, and time spanned in the movie turned out to be just a small seat in a car.
”Driving My Car” is undoubtedly an ambitious and complex multi-themed work. At the beginning of the story, the audience enters the first story line: the drama director Jiafu and his wife Yin live in Tokyo. The wife tells Jiafu the plot of her script every night when he is happy, and listens to him the next morning. At the same time, Jiafu found out that his wife was having an affair with the actor Takatsuki he was working with, and therefore refused to communicate with his wife, regretting it after the sudden death of his wife. The unfinished stories and unfinished long talks of his wife, like the tapes of the lines of “Uncle Vanya” left by his wife, entangled the family portrait and prevented him from performing on stage again. This leads to the second story line: Jiafu was invited to Hiroshima to participate in the drama festival, and rehearsed the multilingual version of “Uncle Vanya”. During the audition process, he saw Takatsuki who faded out of the entertainment circle because of the sex scandal. Choose him as the actor. The third story line is about the driver of the family portrait, Polly, a young woman who was the same age as his dead daughter, reticent, as if she was holding a secret. Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” appears in the form of a play in a play and runs through the entire movie. In the car, the script of the play read by his wife was entangled with family portraits. In the theater, actors from various countries performed this classic drama in their native language, and used the script to insinuate the lives of everyone. In these story lines, there are secondary stories: Jiafu’s gradual loss of eyesight, Korean sign language actors’ questions about communication and language, Takatsuki’s own struggles and changes in his relationship with Jiafu, what his wife has not finished telling. The story of a female high school student. Many story lines of this kind are connected and echoed each other, thus portraying a picture of Hiroshima between fiction and reality.
These stories seem to belong to Hiroshima in the 21st century, but in fact live in the void of text and allusions. Three short stories by Haruki Murakami form the part of wife and family portrait: In “Mountain Ruzode”, the heroine tells a story every time after she has sex. The scene in which Jiafu sees his wife and other men having an affair but leaves without saying a word comes from another short story “The Wild”. As the title of Shan Ruzod implies, this way of telling stories every night directly refers to the narrative tradition of “The Thousand and One Nights”. In the car, in the room, and on the street, we saw the shadow of Haruki Murakami; on the stage of the play in the play, Chekhov’s form was resurrected here.
The scatter and failure of the film also stems from the verbosity of the text. We can still compare the film with Li Cangdong’s “Burning”. It is also through the story frame of Murakami Haruki to reach the questions that the director himself wants to discuss. Li Cangdong’s stories are so natural and targeted. In “Driving My Car”, the connection between the various story lines is only a literal connection: after the family portrait discovered that his wife had derailed, the fragment of “Uncle Vanya” that sounded in the car contained “betrayal” and “chasteness”. “In other words, the family portrait can’t continue to interpret Vanya because of his wife’s death. However, the core of Chekhov’s play has nothing to do with the personal feuds of 21st century avant-garde directors. As a play in play, the connection between inside and outside of the play is limited to blunt words. “Uncle Vanya” tells the story of an old landlord who has worked all his life and found himself wasting his life. After decades of hard work and support, Ivan (Uncle Vanya) found that his support object, his brother-in-law, was a capital bastard who sought fame and reputation. At the same time, love became impossible. Since then, his work has lost its meaning and his life has ceased. There are colors. In the midst of all thoughts, there is the last line quoted repeatedly in the film: “We want to live! Because we will rest.”
In Chekhov’s script, this paragraph is like this: “We, Uncle Vanya, We have to live. We have to live through countless long days and tired nights; we have to patiently endure the test that fate puts on us; we have to work for others, no matter whether we are now or in our old age, we will not get a little Rest. When our time comes, we will say goodbye to this world without a complaint; and on the other side, on the tomb side, we will say: We have suffered, we shed tears, and life is suffering for us ——God will have mercy on us. At that time, we will have a rest. I have faith, uncle, I have a fiery, passionate belief… We will have a rest!”
In Chekhov’s text, This sentence is the irony and despair of the needle in Mianli, but under the image of Ryusuke Hamaguchi, it has become a kind of chicken soup for contemporary urban life. When the family portrait hugged Polly in the snow and said, “We want to live”, Chekhov’s text, like many metaphors in the film, became a broken decoration.
Except for Chekhov’s fragmentation, the rest of the story lines are also difficult to take care of, and many suspenses have been hurriedly closed and passed away. As Jiafu’s eye disease is gradually forgotten by the audience, he, as the protagonist, no longer drops eye drops in the film. Several beautiful storylines at the beginning are also anticlimactic: the driver Duli appears entirely as an instrumental character, she is the projection of the family portrait’s deceased daughter, and the entanglement between her and her mother has completely reduced to the lead of the male protagonist’s self-forgiveness, and even contributed “My wife died because of me.” “I killed my mother.” Such astounding dog-blood dialogues. The mysterious derailment of his wife was ultimately attributed to “a woman is like this” and the simple and rude “to love her, you should love everything about her”. All the symbols have nowhere to go in such craftsmanship and deliberateness, running around, can not help but make people think: A journey of self-seeking by Meng Jinghui in Japan is worth pulling on Chekhov, Shanruzod and five languages To accompany?
Of course, there is no story that is not worth telling, only the presentation of failure. “Driving My Car” gives people such an illusory excitement. When Chekhov performed in six languages finally just conveyed to the audience “Life still has to go on”, the camera reentered the classic car and drove out of Hiroshima and out of Japan. When we walked out of the theater, we could finally, like the female driver Polly, leave everything that just happened in the past.