Adapted from the short story by Haruki Murakami, Japanese filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s profoundly moving, poetic vision of grief and the deep mysteries of the human spirit is the Cannes 2021 winner for Best Screenplay.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
Veteran stage actor turner director Yūsuke Kafuku, a grief-stricken lost soul floating through life in the wake of a betrayal and terrible tragedy, drives his vivid crimson Saab Turbo to Hiroshima to direct an experimental version of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. On arrival, he is assigned a chauffeur by the theatre company as he is forbidden from driving while under contract. He soon develops a bond with the mysterious and sullen Watari – who harbours dark secrets of her own – as she shuttles him around the city.
Though there is seemingly little in the way of event in Japanese filmmaker’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s three-hour opus, the time flies by as smoothly as the gentle neon landscapes out the window of Kafuku’s vehicle.
Adapted from Haruki Murakami’s short story, the film gradually reveals the intricacies of its characters’ identities with the care and texture of a master weaver, while still retaining an essential element of unknowability between us and the characters, and between the characters themselves. How does one love when one cannot know another person in their entirety? How can one make peace with the hidden truths of a person now lost to the grave? Under the watchful eye of Hamaguchi’s remarkable direction, these questions are interrogated in the subtle interplay between its wayward spirits, building to a gently revelatory climax. — Tom Augustine
“...endlessly fascinating and rich, the type of film which you could spend hours analysing and come no closer to feeling as if you’ve landed on its true intent... like there is always something magical and otherworldly in the air despite the humdrum domestic of the settings.” — David Jenkins, Little White Lies