'Japanese Story': Indie laden with brilliant subtleties

    Perilous deserts, a sexy geologist, a Japanese businessman ó these are the basic ingredients that make up Sue Brook’s exhilarating drama, “”Japanese Story.””

    Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films
    Guardian

    Set in the breathtaking Australian wilderness, the tale begins with an independent, strong-willed, single, working woman, Sandy (played by the lovely and blonde Toni Collette), who unwillingly babysits a foreign businessman named Hiromitsu (Gotaru Tsunamisha). Hiromitsu is intent on seeing the exciting and alien sites of a big wild continent. But the dislike and misunderstandings between the two strangers slowly give way to a tension-filled friendship and unlikely romance.

    Initially funny and ultimately dramatic, “”Japanese Story”” manages to combine two people from distinct cultures and place them in a realistic and engaging story full of human emotion and intriguing enigma. Much like the fall indie hit, “”Lost in Translation,”” Brook’s film is full of subtleties (visual, auditory and emotional) that secretly stay with you long after the film has ended.

    Although the film is far from perfect, the acting is sensational, especially by Collette. No longer the weird single mother (“”About a Boy,”” “”The Sixth Sense””), the awkward girl (“”Muriel’s Wedding””) or the supporting character (“”Dinner with Friends,”” “”Velvet Goldmine””), Collette is now able to take on a character and create a degree of complexity and sentiment that is pure brilliance. She manages to shine by virtue of her own talent rather than with unnecessary gimmicks or in the shadow of a big-name-no-talent-star.

    Tsunamisha is uncanny in his portrayal of an uptight businessman. His character evolves from cold and snobby to curious and personable in a delicate manner that is suitable for the film.

    Collette and Tsunamisha have an undeniable chemistry that propels the film. Although awkward at points, for the better part of the film their relationship maintains a very realistic feel, thanks to the understated realism of Tsunamisha’s pushy corporate executive and Collette’s feisty heroine.

    Subtlety in this film may be lost on some. “”Story”” is slow at points and never picks up to the speed set by many popular films. The editing is a bit choppy: Some scenes are too short, while others drag on. This ultimately creates a slight unevenness in the film that detracts from its merits.

    Despite its shortcomings, the skillful acting and compelling plot hold “”Japanese Story”” together to create a strong, intelligent movie that, sadly, may go unappreciated by the majority of popular audiences.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal