Yusuke Kafuku, a stage actor and director, still unable, after two years, to cope with the loss of his beloved wife, accepts to direct Uncle Vanja at a theater festival in Hiroshima. There he meets Misaki, an introverted young woman, appointed to drive his car. In between rides, secrets from the past and heartfelt confessions will be unveiled.

Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima), a stage actor and director is happily married to Oto (Reika Kirishima), a screenwriter. However, Oto suddenly dies after leaving behind a secret. Two years later, Kafuku, still unable to fully cope with the loss of his wife, receives an offer to direct a play at a theater festival and drives to Hiroshima with his car. There, he meets Misaki (Toko Miura), a reticent woman assigned to become his chauffeur. As they spend time together, Kafuku confronts the mystery of his wife that quietly haunts him.

© 2021 Culture Entertainment, Bitters End, Nekojarashi, Quaras, NIPPON SHUPPAN HANBAI, Bungeishunju, L’ESPACE VISION, C&I, The Asahi Shimbun Company


Born in 1978. After graduating from the University of Tokyo, Ryusuke Hamaguchi  worked in the film industry for a few years before entering the graduate film program at the Tokyo University of the Arts. His graduation film, Passion, screened at San Sebastian Film Festival in 2008 as well as Tokyo FILMeX competition. He has been constantly working on films since then. These include the Japan/Korea coproduction film The Depths (2010) screened in Tokyo FILMeX and a series of documentary Tohoku Trilogy (Sound of the Waves, Voices from the Waves and Storytellers) co-directed by Ko Sakai from 2011 to 2013. His Happy Hour premiered at Locarno and win awards at numerous film festivals. Asako I & II was selected for the competition at Cannes in 2018 and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at Berlin in 2021. He also wrote the screenplay for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Wife of a Spy, which won the Silver Lion at Venice in 2020.


2008 – Passion

2009 I Love Thee for Good (short)

2010 – The Depths

2011 – Sound of Waves (documentary) 

*co-director with Ko Sakai

2012 – Intimacies

2013 – Voice of the Waves-Shinchi Town (documentary) *co-director with Ko Sakai

2013 – Voice of the Waves-Kisenuma (documentary)   

*co-director with Ko Sakai

2013 – Storytellers (documentary)   

*co-director with Ko Sakai

2013 – Touching the Skin of Eeriness (short) 

2015 – Happy Hour

2016 – Heaven is Still Far Away(short)

2018 – Asako I & II

2021 – Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy

© 2021 Culture Entertainment, Bitters End, Nekojarashi, Quaras, NIPPON SHUPPAN HANBAI, Bungeishunju, L’ESPACE VISION, C&I, The Asahi Shimbun Company


There are three reasons why I wanted to make a film based on Haruki Murakami’s short story, “Drive My Car.”

One is that it features Kafuku and Misaki and depicts the interactions between these two intriguing characters. And these interactions take place inside a car. These depictions jogged my own memories of intimate conversations that are only born within that closed-off, moving space. Because it’s a moving space, it’s actually nowhere, and there are times when that place helps us discover aspects of ourselves that we’ve never showed anyone, or thoughts that we couldn’t put into words before.

Next is that the short story deals with acting as its theme. To act is to hold multiple identities, which is a socially accepted form of insanity, so to speak. Doing it as a job is obviously grueling, and sometimes even causes meltdowns. But I know people who have no choice but to do it. And these people who act for a living are in fact healed by that insanity, which enables them to continue living. This type of acting done as a “way to survive” is something that I’ve been interested in for a long time.

The last factor is the ambiguous character named Takatsuki and the way his “voice” is depicted. Kafuku is fairly certain that Takatsuki slept with his wife before she passed away, and he deems the man as being “not an especially skilled actor.” But one day, Takatsuki bares Kafuku’s blind spot. “If we hope to truly see another person, we have to start by looking within ourselves,” he says, and the reason why this fairly stereotypical comment devastates Kafuku is that he senses intuitively that it’s a “truth” that he could never have reached on his own — “His words were clear and charged with conviction. He wasn’t acting, that’s for sure.”

I thought, “I know voices like this. I’ve heard them before in real life.” What’s more, I knew that once you heard a voice like that, you could no longer be the same as before, and that you were obligated to reply to what that voice was asking you. The short story didn’t go into what happened after that — I felt that Kafuku’s reply had yet to be depicted.

When I began working on the filmization of this short story filled with such fascinating elements, my aim was to let these questions and answers unfold as a chain of “voices” containing truth, as depicted in the story, to arrive at Kafuku’s final answer. This was also about creating an experience for the audience that allows them to continuously, intuitively sense the truth through the fiction that is acting.

Does the movie Drive My Car manage to pull that off? I don’t know. I think the answer to that is something that will take a long time to arrive at.

What I can say at this point is that the time we spent filming this work was a happy one. All the characters — beginning with Kafuku as portrayed by Hidetoshi Nishijima — express pain, but what I sensed from every actor on the set was the joy of acting. So which ended up being shot by the camera? I sincerely look forward to seeing how the audience will interpret and react to this movie.

Ryusuke Hamaguchi

* Quotes from “Drive My Car” are from Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami (Alfred A. Knopf; translated by Philip Gabriel and Theodore Goossen)

© 2021 Culture Entertainment, Bitters End, Nekojarashi, Quaras, NIPPON SHUPPAN HANBAI, Bungeishunju, L’ESPACE VISION, C&I, The Asahi Shimbun Company


Hidetoshi Nishijima – Yusuke Kafuku

Born in 1971 in Tokyo, Nishijima has worked on over sixty films and thirty TV drama series since 1994.

In 1999 Nishijima’s first lead role in LICENSE TO LIVE directed by acclaimed Kiyoshi Kurosawa, which he played a young man trying to find a normal way to live after coming out of coma, brought him the Best Actor Award at Japan Professional Awards. Nishijima also starred in DOLLS directed by world-renowned Takeshi Kitano and the film was selected in the competition at Venice International Film Festival in 2002.

CUT directed by Amir Naderi led him back to Venice International Film Festival for the Orizzonti opening in 2011. Nishijima won the Best Actor Award at Takasaki Film Festival for the film with the performance of struggling film director hassled by mobs while trying to raise money to make a film.

In 2016 Berlin International Film Festival screened two films Nishijima worked with two Japanese masters. The film he was reunited with Takeshi Kitano, WHILE THE WOMEN ARE  SLEEPING,  which  Wayne  Wang directed as his first Japanese film and Kitano played the lead, premiered as Panorama Special, and CREEPY , the film he was reunited with the director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, premiered as Berlinale Special. 

He also starred in VOICES IN THE WIND (directed by Nobuhiro Suwa/ 2020) which won the Generation 14 plus International Jury Prize Special Mention in Berlin.

Masaki Okada –            Koshi Takatsuki

Okada was born in Tokyo in 1989 and started his career in 2006.

His filmography includes A GENTLE BREEZ IN THE VILLAGE(07/Nobuhiro Yamashita), SOMEBODY(16/Daisuke Miura),GINTAMA(17/Yuichi Fukuda), THE MANY FACES OF ITO(18/Ryuichi Hiroki), FAMILY STORY(18/Takeyoshi Yamamoto), UMNDER THE STARS(20/Tatsushi Omori)and THE NIGHT BEYOND THE TRICORNERED WINDOW(21/Yukihiro Morigaki). His upcoming films are ARC(Kei Ishikawa)and CUBE(Yasuhiko Shimizu)which is Japanese remake of CUBE by Vincenzo Natali.

Toko Miura –               Misaki Watari

Miura was born in Hokkaido in 1996. 

In 2002, Miura started as her career as the second poster girl for Suntory orange juice called ’Nattchan’.

Her filmography includes OUR HUFF AND PUFF JOURNEY (15/Daigo Matsui), TSUKIKO(17/Michio Koshikawa), DYNAMITE GRAFFITI(18/Masanori Tominaga), ROMANCE DOLL(20/Yuki Tanada)and I SHALL LIVE BY MYSELF(20/Shuichi Okita)which was premiered at Busan International Film Festival 2020.

She took part as a vocalist of the theme song of WEATHERING WITH YOU(19/Makoto Shinkai)and she is also active as a singer. Her 1st mini album “ASTERISK” was released in 2020.

Reika Kirishima –              Oto Kafuku

Kirishima was born in Niigata in1972. 

She debuted as a model and started her career as an actress in 1988.

Her filmography includes A STRANGER OF MINE(05/Kenji Uchida/ premiered at the Cannes Critique's Week), PERMANENT NOBARA(10/Daihachi Yoshida), NORWEGIAN  WOOD(10/Tran Anh Hung/premiered at the Venice Film Festival Competition), BREAD OF HAPPINESS(12/Yukiko Mishima)and THE FAMILY PLAYING TOGETHER(15/Eiji Uchida).

She also played in TV drama “24 JAPAN”(20-21), “No matter how dark the night is/Yoruga dorehodo kurakutemo”(20).

Park Yurim –                          Lee Yoon-a 

Jin Daeyeon –                   Yoon-su

© 2021 Culture Entertainment, Bitters End, Nekojarashi, Quaras, NIPPON SHUPPAN HANBAI, Bungeishunju, L’ESPACE VISION, C&I, The Asahi Shimbun Company


Producer: Teruhisa, Yamamoto

Associate Producers: Tamon, Kondo and Eunkyoung, Lee

Executive Producers: Kazuo, Nakanishi  and Yuji, Sadai

Based on: Haruki, Murakami

Screenplay: Ryusuke, Hamaguchi and Takamasa, Oe

Music: Eiko, Ishibashi

Cinematography: Hidetoshi, Shinomiya

Lighting Director: Taiki, Takai

Sound Operator: Izuta, Kadoaki

Production Designer: Hyeonsun, Seo

Set Decorator: Mami, Kagamoto

Costume Designer: Haruki, Koketsu

Hair & Make-up Artist: Haruko, Ichikawa

Chief Assistant Directors: Naoki, Watanabe  and  Takamasa, Oe

Editor: Azusa, Yamazaki

Re-Recording Mixer: Miki, Nomura

Korean Coordinator: Mizy, Kwon

1st Assistant Directors: Hayato, Kawai and Hiroki, Kubota


Original title: Drive My Car

International title: Drive My Car

Duration: 179 min

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Format: 2K

Sound: 5.1

Year: 2021

Original language: Japanese, Korean,  English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog, Indonesian, German, Malaysian

Country of production: Japan

Production Companies: C&I Entertainment Inc., Culture Entertainment Co., Ltd., Bitters End, Inc.

With the support of: the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan through the Japan Arts Council, J-LOD Subsidy Program for JAPAN CONTENT

© 2021 Culture Entertainment, Bitters End, Nekojarashi, Quaras, NIPPON SHUPPAN HANBAI, Bungeishunju, L’ESPACE VISION, C&I, The Asahi Shimbun Company



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