The Criterion Voyages (Spine #1136): DRIVE MY CAR -- Your Chance to Bring Home the Best Movie of 2021
By Sean Boelman
When Drive My Car was picked up by specialty distributor Janus Films, cinephiles knew that it would only be a matter of time before the film was added to the Criterion Collection given the companies’ long-standing business relationship. Now, physical media collectors have the chance to bring home one of the finest movies of 2021 and add it to their shelf.
The moving three-hour drama follows a theater director who puts on a unique performance of Anton Chekov’s play Uncle Vanya two years after the passing of his wife. It’s a perfect fit for Criterion — literary but not too pretentious, and almost universally beloved among the film community.
Although the movie picked up much acclaim on its festival run — garnering several awards at the Cannes Film Festival, among other fests — few expected it to break out into such mainstream success at the Oscars last year. But that recognition has allowed it to find the audience it needed to be remembered as the masterpiece it is.
The film tenderly explores its themes, ranging from grief to artistic expression, and while its three-hour runtime can be a bit daunting to some, the opportunity to own the movie on home media allows you the opportunity to admire it at your own pace or the chance to rewind and watch some of your favorite scenes over and over again.
Hidetoshi Nishijima’s leading performance remains one of the most criminally unrecognized of last year. The amount of nuance he brings to the role is simply mind-blowing, as is the amount of emotion he is able to get out even the smallest of emotions. And his chemistry with Toko Miura is subtle but particularly impactful in the third act.
The Criterion release is a new 2K master, and while it would have been nice to see them take advantage of the 4K format in which they have been working recently, it’s still nice to be able to own the film in a physical format. After all, Hidetoshi Shinimiya’s gorgeous cinematography is going to look exquisite regardless of what format you see it in.
The bonus features on the disc do draw a lot from other sources, but there is a new interview with writer-director Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Given that this is the movie’s initial home media release, it almost makes sense that it resembles more of a standard Blu-Ray release than a Criterion Collection edition, but cinephiles are going to jump on it regardless.
Drive My Car is hardly a surprising addition to the Criterion Collection, but that doesn’t make it any less deserving of its spot. Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s film is an early contender to be one of the best movies of the decade, and having this Blu-Ray will ensure you remember that.
The Criterion Collection edition of Drive My Car is now available.
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