Cannes Film Festival 2021: Day 6

What the Critics say...

by Alexa Dalby

Drive My Car

A theatre director (“I really needed to show that this character is carrying an enormous sadness within him; I needed the audience to really understand those feelings and his reactions.”) and his assigned chauffeur reach an unexpected kinship in this deliberate, deeply moving tale of grief, renewal and sheer driving pleasure.

It tells the story of Yusuke Kafuku, a respected theatre director and actor trying to stage a multilingual production of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya as he tries to grapple with the death of his beloved but unfaithful wife, having cast her lover in the titular role. It ponders just how much time can heal all wounds.

To create the co-written script, Hamaguchi read and re-read Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and Murakami’s text, pulling lines and elements from each that struck him as being in dialog with each other and the life of his main character. It is based on the short story of the same name by Haruki Murakami from his 2014 short story collection Men Without Women.

No character embodies his interest in the eloquence of wordlessness better than the character Lee Yoon-a, a mute actress that Kafuku selects to star in his play. Through sign language and an almost seraphic beatitude, she delivers some of the film’s most moving moments.

On stage with her arms around Kafuku, beaten down by his own widower’s grief and his character Vanya’s misanthropy, she signs her last Chekhov monologue, expressing a sense of hope and healing that no other character can. She consoles him voicelessly in the pin-drop silence of the theater: “You have never known happiness, but wait! We shall rest.” – Variety


Flag Day

Tre Piani

The French Dispatch

Quinzaine des Réalisaturs

Ali & Ava

“Clio Barnard returns to the Cannes Film Festival with the British drama Ali & Ava. While billed as a romance, the Directors’ Fortnight entry doesn’t take the path of a traditional idealised love story, instead exploring the connection between a new couple within Barnard’s social realist world. Based on locals that she encountered while filming The Arbor (2010) and The Selfish Giant (2013) in Bradford, it stars Claire Rushbrook (Secrets & Lies) as Ava and Adeel Akhtar (Four Lions) as Ali.” – Screen International

“With tenderness and care, the director of ‘The Arbor’ returns to Bradford to observe how a pair of damaged souls tiptoe their way into an uncertain relationship.” – Variety

Join the discussion