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Touching, Shocking Love in Australia,
This review is from: Japanese Story (Special Edition) (DVD)
(...). Director Sue Brooks gives us a rare gem of a film about intercultural love against the backdrop of an alternately desolate and lush Australian desert. Sandy (Toni Colette) is a gritty Aussie geologist, attractive and hard, it seems, with little patience to chaperone fresh-off-the plane Tachibana (Gotaro Tsunashima). The young man has arrived from Kyoto to look after his father's mining project. Sandy sulks at the traditionally Japanese Tachibana's commands. She's a cog in his eyes and he clearly is the boss in these parts. Brooks' straightforward direction develops the relationship between these opposites at a realistically uneven pace.
Sandy takes Tachibana deeper into the interior. At one point he marvels from a mountaintop overlooking the vast desert colors and up at the arching silver blue sky. Clearly, cramped Japan offers nothing like this to him. He has met his match in Sandy and the rugged land, and new feelings stir within him. Tachibana revels in meeting obstacles head-on as they plow forward, with his virtual `bushido' determination. The jeep falls into a quagmire, Sandy wants out, but Tachibana will move heaven, but mostly earth, to get going again, and so they do. Exhausted, they collapse into sleep in the cold night desert air. Sandy gently nudges close to him. Later they make love in a motel, curiously, deeply. We are left anticipating what direction the story will take. The next day, everything changes, the silent intimacy is replaced by sheer joy in their love and life - these are two `kids' in love, tender in expression, sitting beside a lush oasis, the river rippling, seeming to call to them. Tachibana ambiguously says of his wife back in Japan, "I will make it right".
The rest of the film contains some shocking events which, well, impact all that has gone before. Late in the film, we see the wistful, knowing eyes of Tachibana's beautiful wife (a memorable cameo by Yumiko Tanaka). And through her, we understand everything at once, it seems -- about Sandy, Tachibana, and the gut-wrenching depths of cross-cultural love. This is both a deeply touching and shocking film brought to vivid life by superb character acting and Brooks' restrained direction.