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Japanese Story

This haunting and hypnotic tale of love starts out in a minor key as Sandy (Toni Collette), an Aussie geologist, bitches to her boss about having to baby-sit Hiromitsu (Gotaro Tsunashima), a young Japanese executive who only respects those who bow and show their business cards; she doesn’t have any. Yet Sandy takes him on the town — she even holds his head as he pukes after a drunken karaoke session. But she protests the next day when Hiromitsu demands that she drive him into the outback. Stranded overnight in extremes of hot and cold, the two argue, then make peace over stories of her death-obsessed mother and his wife and children. No longer lost in translation, they forge a bond of feeling and eroticism. That’s when director Sue Brooks, working from a too-tentative script by Alison Tilson, springs a startling surprise that no review should reveal.

Just sit back and let the film — lyrically shot by Ian Baker — enfold you. Tsunashima is superb, and a never-better Collette (The Sixth Sense, About a Boy, The Hours) has a radiant intensity that hits you right in the heart. She burns this movie into your memory.

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