Aussie fish-out-of-water romance with a difference

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 4

Product:

Japanese Story

OPENS JUNE 4, CERT 15, 107 MINS

A monster hit in Australia, this asks Toni Collette to carry us through fierce gear-shifts, which she does admirably, giving it more emotional wallop than it’s otherwise pack. She’s a geologist who drives a prospective client, a Japanese businessman (Gotaro Tsunashima), into the Pilbara desert, at his request. As they delve deeper?geographically and personally?it mutates from road movie into something more intense.

At first they irritate each other. He thinks Aussie women are boorish; she finds him stuffily sexist. Pitched together by danger, they stumble upon intimacy. Each reassesses their identity, discloses some secrets, hides others.

Director Sue Brooks more than once hints we’re going in one direction, then swings us in another. Collette is estimable; her co-star?perhaps because he has to remain enigmatic?less so. It’s a story which knows humans don’t amount to a hill of beans in the face of a harsh landscape, but that their feelings can seem as big as planets.