Baby You Can’t Drive My Car

Evil Does Not Exist from Japanese director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi is probably the only film I’ve ever seen with “Evil” in the title that isn’t an actual horror film.


Hamaguchi previously helmed Drive My Car, which won an Oscar® for Best International Film. Technically Drive My Car and 2008’s Departures are the only Japanese films to garner that particular award. In the 1950s Gate of Hell (1953) won an Oscar® for Best Costume and Rashomon (1950) won an honorary Oscar®. The category of Best Foreign Film was not established until 1956.


Evil Does Not Exist (Aku wa sonzai shinai) deals with corporate malfeasance in a small community. A wealthy businessman, himself unseen until the middle of the movie, wants to build a site for glamping on the mountain top that overlooks the town. The film revolves around members of the community who oppose the idea in a town meeting as well as the ad agency hired to appease the notion to the people.


Glamping is easily defined as “glamorous camping” but in the terms of Evil Does Not Exist that mean possible contaminated water running downstream to the town known for its pure water.


One citizen expresses her dismay at the meeting. She’s moved there specifically to open a restaurant that would utilize the pure water to make her ramen even more excellent. Another town elder warns of the environmental impact to the surrounding forest.


This is Japan and all of the conversations are civil and respectful. Yes, everybody seems to embody different viewpoints. The agency has strict orders from their client to make the people of the remote area comply but are they ever so polite. Even to the point of trying to bond with the locals.


Can I join you in your daily task of chopping logs to heat your homes?

There are scenes of an axe being swung on wood turning it into kindling. There are also some masterful tracking shots of snowy nature trails. You wonder if the focus is on the people walking and talking or the lay of the land.


Drive My Car ran three hours whereas Evil Does Not Exist sums up the story in under two hours. I wouldn’t have minded if it was longer.

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