I know what’s coming and I’m not in a hurry to get there, much like Kafuku. But in between that devastating love scene and the abyss, there’s this melancholy pause. It begins with Kafuku at his desk and on his computer (by the way, a contemporary MacBook Pro, making it perhaps the only anachronism in the movie, since these scenes are taking place about 10 years earlier.)

He’s on YouTube, watching videos about lampreys. He watches a lamprey affix to a fish, sucking the life out of it. He’s watching these clips robotically, as if in a daze. On the stereo system, Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 3 in D Major is playing on the turntable. Except it’s skipping (which, to be honest, is not so easy to notice with this recording) but Oto does pick up on it, so she walks in from an adjacent room and removes the needle from the record.

She then asks Kafuku if he remembered the story from the night before. As we’ll discover later in the film, Oto never remembered her post coital stories, which is why she relied on Kafuku (and perhaps others) to recount them for her. He lies and says that he was asleep, so doesn’t remember them. This leads Oto to respond that it probably wasn’t worth remembering in that case.

Kafuku then gets up from the desk and says that he has a workshop to teach, which surprised Oto. As he walks to the door, Oto hands him the keys, asks if he feels ok to drive (he says that he is fine) and then asks if it’s ok for them to talk when he gets home. Kafuku says of course, why would you ask? They exchange pleasant goodbyes.

We don’t know if he had a workshop or not, we only see Kafuku driving and rehearsing his Uncle Vanya lines. All of the practice dialogue here is important.

Oto’s Voiceover: Is she faithful to him?
Vanya/Kafuku: Yes, unfortunately
Oto’s Voiceover: Why “unfortunately”?
Vanya/Kafuku: Because that woman’s fidelity is a lie through and through. There’s an abundance of rhetoric but no logic anywhere.

This part of the car dialogue takes place during the day, the next part happens at night (so it is possible there’s a rehearsal or something else in between, but we do not know.) The play (and perhaps upcoming discussion) rehearsal continues:

Vanya/Kafuku: My life is lost. There’s no turning back. That thought haunts me like an evil spirit day and night. My past went by without event. It’s unimportant. But the present is worse. What should I do about my life and my love? What happened —
Oto’s Voiceover: When you speak to me of love and romance … I feel like I’m in a daze and don’t know what to say.

At this point Kafuku arrives at the parking garage for his apartment building. He seems in no hurry to get inside and have this conversation with Oto. The dialogue continues:

Oto’s Voiceover: Oh ho, the Lord have mercy …
Kafuku: Sonya … I’m miserable. If only you knew how miserable I am.
Oto’s Voiceover: What can we do? We must live our lives. Yes, we will live our lives, Uncle Vanya. We’ll live them through the long, long days and the long, long nights.

Kafuku at this point takes out the eye drops and puts some in his left eye. He’s facing straight ahead in the car. We notice that part of the drops are on his cheek, running down like a tear. “Uncle Vanya” continues in voiceover:

Oto’s Voiceover: We’ll patiently endure the trials that fate sends our way. Even if we can’t rest, we’ll work for others … both now and when we have grown old. And when our last hour comes, we’ll go quietly. And in the great beyond, we’ll say to Him … that we suffered … that we cried … that life was hard …

He now exits the car and goes up to his apartment, thinking he’s about to have one of the most difficult conversations of his life.

The Rehearsal