Japanese Story (2003) – movie review

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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Toni Collette, Gotaro Tsunashima, Matthew Dyktynski, Lynette Curran, Yumiko Tanaka
Director: Sue Brook

Sandy (Toni Collete) is an overly enthusiastic Australian geologist whose life takes an unseen turn when she reluctantly agrees to drive Tachibana Hiromitsu (Gotaro Tsunashima), a Japanese businessman, into the western Australian desert.

Their relationship starts off like the terrain, bleak and hopeless, but after surviving an ordeal when their car becomes stuck in the sand they start to communicate better. Despite their diverse backgrounds and the fact they speak completely different languages they become extremely close very quickly as people tend to do after experiencing something arduous together and they start to fall in love.

This all culminates in a very unexpected way as amongst other things Tachibana has an Asian wife at home. Unfortunately not much more can be said without totally ruining the central part of the plot and consequently I shall leave those details for you to scrutinize.

The cinematography is excellent perfectly complimenting the thoughtful soundtrack which matches the lead character’s state of mind. Combined with a good story and adequate direction from Sue Brook this is enough to express most of the power of the tale.

The gem of this movie however is the central performance by Toni Collette who brings emotions to life in an almost painfully real way, thus clearly showing the depth of her character’s problems. The supporting cast are all fine enough but perhaps most of the good material went to Toni and she used it perfectly.

In conclusion it is a great study of life and love that does not subscribe to the Hollywood norm of romantic dramas and it is worth seeing.

3 out of 6 stars