A quick look to the left, then a quick glance to the right; then double-check again to make sure no one is in earshot: Drive My Car – Ryūsuke Hamaguchi’s previous film – left me cold. The bell of the ball at Cannes last year, adapted from Murakami, Hamaguchi’s story about the mechanic was a tad overlong, and well, a bit… mechanical. By no means a bad film, but, rather unfortunately, the sheer heft of it overshadowed his previous cinematic foray.
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy debuted at the Berlinale a few months before and despite winning the Silver Bear Award, it fell somewhat by the by. A minor work of mastery, the film unfolds as a narrative triptych. That is to say: an intimate trio of empathetic encounters (something which seems to be a thematic penchant for Hamauchi’s cinema). Beautiful and beguiling, with a dark undercurrent which doesn’t interfere with the film’s tonality – the result is a wistful and humane document. ★★★★