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:: Japanese Story

This film has been highly acclaimed at the Cannes Film Festival and the Melbourne International Film Festival. “Japanese Story” deserves the accolades, as it is a challenging, yet warm, story that reaches the heart of the Australian cultural outlook.

Sandy Edwards (Toni Collette) is a geologist who starts a software business in Perth with Bill Baird (Matthew Dyktynski). A Japanese businessman, and potential client, Tachibana Hiromitsu (Gotaro Tsunashima) is coming to their region to inspect iron-ore mines in the surrounding Pilbara desert. Sandy is reluctant to become his accompanying guide but she ends up showing him the outback. Baird sees the opportunity where his company can sell their geological software abroad.

There seems a mismatch. The reserved Hiromitsu believes Sandy is his driver on this excursion, while she thinks he’s arrogant and sexist. It’s a recipe for a non-productive excursion. Things go amiss when events transpire and see their four-wheel drive get bogged. They are marooned in the desert and their personalities now need to work in harness in order to survive. The self-examination of their individual characters is interesting. All this showcases the baking hot dust-laden Pilbara as typical of the Australian outback. The cinematography is terrific. Director Sue Brooks captures the feeling of the vastness of the region and eye-catching at that, too.

Despite the minor mishaps and personality clashes, we are drawn into what seems the familiar culture-clash romance. But the film takes an unexpected midway twist that moves the film into a reflective and emotional journey, to reveal the true agenda. He film is quite riveting and flows beautifully. You will notice a distinctive mood change in the second part of the story.

“Japanese Story” is very much an Australian film that has wide appeal because of the culture clash and the connection of the two lead characters. Toni Collette and Gotaro Tsunashima obviously have the most screen time and are excellent together. It’s great to have seen Collette return to Australia and fulfil this demanding role. Tsunashima is terrific also. He has worked in Australia before. It’s a profoundly moving drama and is sure to receive further recognition.