‘Drive My Car’ Director Ryūsuke Hamaguchi’s ‘Passion’ Makes U.S. Premiere After 15 Years — Watch the Trailer

Exclusive: The 2008 film stars Fusako Urabe and Aoba Kawai as a couple whose engagement announcement brings up past infidelities.
Film Movement

Ryūsuke Hamaguchi’s sophomore feature will soon be available stateside.

The Japanese filmmaker behind “Drive My Car” and “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” first earned international attention with his thesis graduation film “Passion” out of the Tokyo University of the Arts.

Never before released in the U.S., the second feature from Hamaguchi examines a series of intersecting love triangles as only he can, plunging headlong into the exposed-nerve confessions and unrequited attachments among a group of thirtysomethings. It begins when a couple, Kaho (Aoba Kawai) and Tomoya (Ryuta Okamoto), announce their engagement to their friends over dinner, where it’s also revealed the groom had an affair years earlier. While the two spend the evening apart, Tomoya follows his friends to the apartment of his former classmate (Fusako Urabe), with whom he’s in love, and are led into ever more vulnerable and shocking exchanges of emotional honesty.

The film debuted in 2008, and is now landing a U.S. premiere 15 years later. Hamaguchi previously revealed that his own cinematic inspirations came from what features were available to watch growing up in Japan.

“There’s so much beyond language that is understandable,” Hamaguchi told IndieWire. “Right now, I’m speaking in Japanese, which is a language you might not be able to understand. But even so, you can tell that I’m riding some kind of wave — you can tell when I’m really excited about something, or when I don’t care about something else.”

Looking back on his career, the auteur said in late 2021 that he finds the concept of characters “role-playing” onscreen an interesting theme in his own work, uncovering the inner psyche of why people do what they do.

“But now I’m starting to think that it’s also about desire,” he added. “If somebody wants to be or have something, the fastest way to make it happen is usually to lie. A lie can’t last, though — it doesn’t quite fit in with the realities that came before. It can only survive as fiction.”

“Passion” premieres April 14 at Film at Lincoln Center in New York City and in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Royal and April 17 at the Laemmle Glendale. Additional markets will be announced at a later date, courtesy of Film Movement.

Check out the trailer, an IndieWire exclusive, below.

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