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Japanese Story (2003)
Director: Sue Brooks

Sandy, a geologist, finds herself stuck on a field trip to the Pilbara desert with a Japanese man she finds inscrutable, annoying and decidedly arrogant. Hiromitsu's view of her is not much better. Things go from bad to worse when they become stranded in one of the most remote regions on Earth.

Japanese Story (2003)

The Broken Hill

This is a simple project, executed flawlessly. As with most films that bring you into human emotions, this uses an external reference. The gulf between two souls is referenced by cultural differences. The opening of the inner emotional fountain is folded into profound Australian landscapes, opened for mining. Our woman is a scientist who makes models of this inner structure.

The dainty, repressed Japanese man and brash Australian woman predictably enough fall in love. We follow all this as naturally as we are expected to, and when the bliss has bloomed, we move into the unexpected in a way that allows Toni Collette, the woman, unexpectedly into our hearts as she deals with what follows.

This is so masterful, so effective, I wonder why we have not seen more of this woman filmmaker. Do we not know this film because of poor distribution? Do you have to know the difficulties of love in order to be captured by it? Sometimes, a simple dynamic is what is needed, and this is simply superb.

Others remark on the lovely cinematography as if pretty was what it was all about. No, this is rich, unfamiliar and dangerous. It is the enchanting music that we hear that makes it seem appealing, and that score is turned over and over in many different ways before that last scene, back into quiet Japanese characters.

I contrast this with “Silk,” which I saw recently. It was complex and ambitious. A letter similarly spins the romantic tale off kilter. It also has “pretty” landscapes. But it fails where this succeeds.

Posted in 2023 following an old comment deleted by someone.

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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