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Against the background of an Australian desert, Sandy, a geologist, and Hiromitsu, a Japanese businessman, play out a story of human inconsequence in the face of the blistering universe. The end of the journey leaves no one capable of going back to where they started from. Written by
Australia has given the cinema some wonderfully adept and strikingly effective female actors in the past twenty years or so, Judy Davis starting a parade that includes Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and Toni Collett among others. Collett has the ability to convincingly inhabit many different roles, her part as the depressed, suicidal mom in "About a Boy" being one of her most memorable.
"Japanese Story" is a quirky tale about Sandy Edwards, Collette, an Australian geologist in her, I would guess, mid-thirties. She's ordered to squire about the son of a Japanese industrialist whose investment in a major project is dearly desired by her bosses. The young man, handicapped by a very poor grasp of English and virtually none of Australian, is played by Gotaro Tsunashima. He might be well known in his native country but he was a new screen presence for me.
Sandy takes him on a tour of an achingly eerie, desolate, windswept part of Western Australia. Must of the movie was filmed in the Pilbara Desert, still aborigine country.
Sandy and her charge encounter adventurous situations while, no surprise, a romance springs up. Why Sandy would be attracted to the younger gentleman is never explained and it really shouldn't have been. "Japanese Story" asks the viewer to simply accept that liaisons arise without any deep preliminary exposition of character.
I won't reveal the plot, somewhat unexpected, but fate insures that this affair doesn't proceed swimmingly. What makes the movie is Collette's superb and affecting acting. I cared about her while knowing relatively little about her character's past life other than she hasn't completely resolved mom-daughter issues.
Nothing in this film could impel me to ever wish to go to the Pilbara Desert but it does excite my desire to see Collette take on many more challenging roles. She has a strong future-I hope.
8/10. See it if it plays near you, rent it later if not. You won't be sorry.
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