Set in the autumn of 1941 in Salty Creek, a fishing village in South Carolina, the film tells the dramatic story of interracial lovers swept up in the tides of history. As World War II rages in Europe a wounded stranger, Mr. Ohta, appears in the town under mysterious circumstances. Sophie, a native of Salty Creek, quickly becomes transfixed by Mr. Ohta and a friendship born of their mutual love of art blossoms into a delicate and forbidden courtship. As their secret relationship evolves the war escalates tragically. When Pearl Harbor is bombed, a surge of misguided patriotism, bigotry and violence sweeps through the town, threatening Mr. Ohta's life. A trio of women, each with her own secrets - Sophie, along with the town matriarch and her housekeeper - rejects law and propriety, risking their lives with their actions.Written by
monterey media inc.
Premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. See more »
Know who he is?
Don't know why he ended up here. Got no wallet. Not a penny in his pocket. His bus was comin' from New York City. He mighta gotten on anywhere between there and here. Poor fella.
These are worker's hands. Could be a farmer.
Is that a Chinaman, Dr. Gilbert?
Sure is, Zack.
What's your name, boy?
Don't even talk English.
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I first watched this film about a week ago. I watched it again last night because I just couldn't stop thinking about it. I broke down in tears at the ending on that first watch. And then I cried twice more that night just thinking about how impactful that resolution is. I think it's better to go in not knowing how it ends so that you feel the full weight of it. I don't mean to imply that it's a sad ending. It's more like a bittersweet suckerpunch that makes absolutely perfect sense. It also illustrates the true power of love and human connection, and how far we're willing to go when we find it.
Though the ending is likely to be the thing that sticks with you, the movie has so many other delights. Let's start with what drew me to it in the first place... the utterly luminous central performance by Julianne Nicholson as Sophie. Whether she's out "crabbing" in overalls, or dolled-up for an evening at the "picture show" with Miss Ann, Sophie is a magnetic, fascinating creature. How much of that was on the page, and how much is merely the result this gifted actress's presence, I can't say.
Based on the synopsis, you might be expecting a sad, lonely old spinster. That's not Sophie. No. Instead, she's a strong, fiercely independent, delightfully offbeat, daring woman. Gentle of spirit, sweet of soul, most of the townsfolk do dismiss her as someone in need of their protection. The town busybody, who was the best friend of Sophie's late mother, seems to think managing Sophie's life is her personal mission. Her constant snooping and interference drives most of the conflict in the story. And we are treated to flashbacks that reveal that Miss Ruth has been butting in and causing havoc ever since Sophie was a child. These flashbacks also reveal Sophie to be one of those rare humans with nothing but boundless love in her heart. Unfortunately, by the time we meet her, the social constructs of the era and place she was born into have beaten a lot of it out of her.
When a beaten, barely coherent young Japanese man, Mr. Grover Ohta is dumped on a park bench in her small coastal South Carolina town, little does Sophie know the stranger is about to change her life.
I don't want to give away a whole lot because I think you'll enjoy the movie much more, the less you know. I will say that the cinematography is gorgeous, the score is unobtrusive, and all of the acting is uniformly outstanding. Kudos to whoever found Takashi Yamaguchi and brought him on board. He's just perfect. Margo Martindale is as wonderful as always.
One thing I do want to mention is how glorious the love scenes are. They're so heartfelt and well-earned they brought tears to me eyes on that first watch. I can't remember the last time I had such a strong reaction.
See this movie. Then share it with like-minded friends. You will probably need someone to talk to and/or cry with when it's over.
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