I’ve taken a break from “Drive My Car” for a couple weeks and over this time have been reading Haruki Murakami’s “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” which is widely considered his masterpiece.

I don’t want this project to veer into a discussion about that massive, meandering novel — although I must admit that nothing would be more appropriate for a Murakami discussion than doing just that, he loves the out-of-left-field plot digression — but I do want to make a couple observations about the adaptation of “Drive My Car” after getting a clearer picture of Murakami’s style.

I had a sense from my first couple views of the film that it was just as much an adaptation of Chekhov as Murakami, and I feel even stronger about this after diving deeper into the Japanese novelist’s work. There are, however, some really interesting parallels between ”Drive My Car” and “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” specifically around the twin obsessions of the protagonist: trying to understand a lost love and diving deeply into projects as a way of diverting the mind from that task.

And this is, perhaps, a difference between Chekhov and Murakami … Chekhov’s women tend to be psychologically complex but knowable. There are deep reservoirs of thought and feeling behind their behavior, but it all ultimately comes together in a coherent picture that’s understandable both to the male characters of the works and the audience/readers.

Murakami’s women, on the other hand, are impossible to figure out. Yes, there’s a backstory that helps illuminate their mystery, but ultimately that backstory does nothing to help unravel the knots, it just helps you understand why there is a knot. So Murakami’s women are often acting strangely and they won’t tell you why, they’ll just add story upon story to the mix so you can empathize with their complexity, but still never get a handle on it.

So while I think “Drive My Car” is a much more humanistic piece than what you’d expect from a Murakami adaptation — which is Chekhov’s influence — the ghostly woman at the core of the story remains firmly in the Murakami universe. There are other women in the film, however, who aren‘t as mysterious and over time we will get to know them. And perhaps this is the point of the film — that life is full of complicated characters that don’t all have to remain mysteries to us. It is possible to get to know some people well.

We just have to learn when to let go of the ones who stubbornly refuse to let us in.

Notes on Murakami