Analyze the characteristics of the characters and the plot twists in “In the Car” and appreciate the themes the director wants to express

If 2020 is the year of “Parasite Up” director Bong Joon-ho, 2022 is the era of the rise of Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi. After “Chance and Imagination” won the Grand Jury Prize at the Berlinale last year and was chosen by many critics as one of the top ten films of the year, “In the Car” not only screened at the Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews, but also made a strong impact on this year’s Oscars, being shortlisted for four major awards including

What’s the appeal of this film?

A look at the characters and plot twists in “In the Car” and what the director was trying to say.

Actors’ roles

The main character of “In the Car”, played by Hidetoshi Nishijima, is a stage director who is also an actor. He usually works hard and works hard, but he lives a happy life with his scriptwriter wife Yum, played by Rika Kirishima, and hopes that they can be together forever.

However, one day Kaifuku’s flight is postponed for some reason and he returns home to find his wife having an affair

. In order not to ruin the precious marriage, he chose to keep the secret to himself, found a hotel, pretended he had gone away on a business trip, and communicated with his wife by video message as normal.

But the marriage changed when his wife died of a sudden cerebral hemorrhage, leaving Jiafu with nothing but his love for her,

Only the regret of being separated from his wife before he could tell her the lie of infidelity and a videotape that he cherished


The title of the film is taken as “ドライブ・マイ・カー” which directly translates as “Driving my car”. The story of the film “In the car” begins two years after the film’s opening credits, when Kaifuku is invited to Hiroshima as the director in charge of directing a stage play, and under the illness of his glasses, the theater company forces him to hire a driver, Misaki.

So the driver disrupted his original plans and pace, and made Garford feel rejected and unadjusted.

However, as he gets used to Misaki’s presence over time, “In the Car” focuses on his ride to work and his interactions with the driver and the actors he has chosen to work with during rehearsals, not only building up the background of each character’s personality with a lot of dialogue, but also bringing the audience into the depths of their being through the relationship between the characters. The film’s main character, Jia Fu, is in the shadow of his wife’s death and is able to change his original perspective.

Uncle Vanya in the car

Chekhov’s play “Uncle Vanya” is definitely the audience for the entire film “In the Car”.

Whether “In the car” or “In the theater,” the film is a large part of the film and is performed by actors from different nationalities in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, and sign language, and is not only the deepest connection between Kaifook and his late wife, but the main character of “Vanya” also corresponds to the encounter and state of mind that Kaifook, as the director, experienced, which had a profound impact on him. The play’s title character, “Vanya,” also corresponds to the encounter and state of mind experienced by the director, which had a profound impact on him.

In the Car

The characters are given the opportunity to understand the unseen side of their wives’ voices by looking at the text for answers,

Gradually, he opens up and confronts the trauma that has plagued him for the past two years.

Plot twist

Even though they love each other very much, Yoon has sex with other men behind her husband’s back, and this has become a knot in Kaifuku’s heart. It is not until he learns about another side of his wife that he does not know through a young actor, Koji, who is obsessed with her and has had sex with her in the car, that the situation begins to change.

It may be frustrating that after more than a decade of marriage, the protagonist of “In the Car” still doesn’t know so much about the person he spends his time with, but even so,

we still have to stay true to our hearts, understand the independence and complexity of each different individual, and accept it in a workable way

. That is, if you want to get to know someone deeply, the first thing to do is to first look at it squarely and take yourself seriously.

Short story

In the Car once again demonstrates director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s fascination with “story” and his extremely skillful mastery of choreography.

Inspired by the protagonist’s wife, Yon, who has sex, the film tells the story of a schoolgirl who sneaks into the house of a boy she is obsessed with when no one is home during the day. Each time she comes to his apartment, the girl steals an object from it and leaves behind a small object of her own as a memento and thus proof of her existence.

According to what Kaifuku, the protagonist of “In the Car,” he heard, the story was originally told when the girl, unable to resist her inner desires and comforting herself one day, found out that someone had come home early. The story is that the girl’s wife’s lover, Koji, told Kaifuku the rest of the story in the car. The man who opened the door and came home was a thief who saw the girl on the bed and wanted to violate her, but ended up being killed by her instead.

The Seven Gill Eel

But no one reacted to the body of the thief left by the girl in the boy’s house. The only difference was that the next day there was an extra camera in front of the boy’s house, which made the girl feel confused and conflicted, not only doubting her own existence, but also feeling guilty for the murder.

In the Car, a story centered on desire and the value of survival,

both reminded me of the second passage in Chance and Imagination, The Open Room.

The wife says that the girl’s past life was a “seven-gill eel,” a fish that uses its “mouthparts” to latch onto other fish to get the nutrients it needs. In the end, the girl in the story “In the car” is actually the embodiment of the wife, and the boy is naturally the protagonist who pretended to be indifferent to the discovery of his wife’s affair, leaving the girl confused. Perhaps he acted in such a way to protect the marriage, but from the wife’s point of view, how does she feel? In the daytime is very different from the night dominated by the woman’s love, under the respectful politeness and coldness, does the love between the two still exist?

Letting go of reconciliation

The main character’s demons lie in the belief that he didn’t come home earlier and missed the golden hour when he could have saved his wife,

But his real fault is that he chose to ignore the presence of the “thief,” the “human things” that intervened in their beautiful marriage.

In which whether it was his wife’s lover, the fact that she was having an affair, or the fact that the relationship between the two had become somewhat cold for many reasons, the pain she felt during her lifetime is transmitted to the protagonist in another form after her passing, through the car filled with memories of the two of them and the tapes left behind.

So just as the protagonist, Kaifuku, and his driver, Misaki, go from a formal and distant working relationship to a relationship where they share their secrets, talk about their sad past, and confess their mistakes, so what the protagonist of “In the Car” can do is the same as what the actor, Koji, says in the car,

Ultimately, there is only acceptance of the lies, the betrayal, and the fact that he has lost his daughter and his wife.

Movie themes

Even at nearly three hours long, “In the Car” is a simple film with a calm pace, a detailed description of the characters and the story, and a simple message from director Ryusuke Hamaguchi. It’s like trying to live with resilience in the face of extreme disappointment and pessimism, trying to understand from a different perspective, forgiving others, forgiving oneself, letting go of the complex thoughts that make people feel sorry, and remembering all the good that has been experienced.

Maybe the mystery left by the wife is not a mystery at all, she was in love with her husband and had sex with other men at the same time

, it’s not a lie, and there’s no conflict between the two. Although “In the Car” features Hidetoshi Nishijima as the male director as the main character, the driving force behind the trauma, awakening and reconciliation brought to him, whether it is the wife, the sign language actor, or the driver in the car, is almost always in the women that the director has always been very good at portraying and depicting, through them to wake up the more superficial-minded, self-centered men. In fact, the source of the hurt is not that the girls are hiding any secrets, but that they see it as a problem and constantly want to explore and understand themselves.

Ending Implications

We have all spent many long days and nights, and now it is time for us to patiently take on the many trials that fate has in store for us. So watching the protagonist finally follow her driver Misaki to her hometown of Hokkaido, where she grew up,

The director also concludes “In the Car” with the two of them confronting the shadows of their inner trauma together, which is quite a perfect ending to the film

. The only way to look at the sadness of the past is with a smile, and to face the future of their journey with a more open mind and a brighter future together with the people around them.

I really like the final ending of In the Car, which seems to be a bland but complete account of everything.

The main character, Kaifuku, gives the car that held him captive to Misaki, and Misaki comes to live in Korea from Japan, gets a dog, heals the scar on her face, and the two heal each other out of the gloom of the past, though they don’t know what the future holds, and move on to a new life by reconciling with the trauma inside themselves.

Conclusion of the review

There is no doubt that “In the Car” once again shows the unique atmosphere of Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s film, adapted from Haruki Murakami’s novel, which not only has a different flavor from the previous “Burning Love” directed by Lee Chang-dong from Korea, but also takes the characters’ ambivalence and confusion about their own identity as the core, and under the fact that each of them has their own psychological trauma, by delving into their lives in various trivial routines, it takes the audience to see how they get along with each other. The film is a great example of how to find a place for yourself in each of your intimate relationships, and how to deal with loss and separation.

Not for nothing did the director set “In the Car” in Hiroshima, watching the two take a walk on the beach near the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, with supporting actors from various countries, including Taiwanese actress Yuan Zi-wan and Korean Park You-rim, to further deepen the theme of reconciliation by elevating the film from the personal to the national and historical scars.

Carrying the past, the present and the future, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “In the Car” is a worthy entry into the Oscars with Japanese cinema.

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