Ryusuke Hamaguchi: Best Director of 2021–Drive My Car and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy

A theater artist (Hidetoshi Nishijima), recently widowed, travels to Hiroshima to direct an experimental version of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.”

A younger woman (Toko Miura), stricken by loss of her own, is hired as his driver.

Loosely based on Haruki Murakami’s Hamaguchi constructs an understated but dense and multilayered meditation on the complexities of art and human bonds.

The spirit of Chekhov hovers in the background and is honored by the film’s compassionate regard for its characters. But there’s also subtle humor and existential touches that recall Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.”

This masterpiece about life and death, art and reality is made by one of the most exciting directors of the international film scene over the past decade.

Rest assured, if my description makes the film sounds like a filmed play, that you will be watching a uniquely cinematic feature.

It just happens that Hamaguchi’s other film, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, is getting a US theatrical release at the same time.

Divided into three intricate stories dealing with chance and fate, this movie was reportedly inspired by French New Wave director Eric Rohmer.