In a desert of pre-fab pics made according to marketing schemes, Japanese Story is an oasis of originality: that rare cinematic experience where the journey offers no inkling of its dramatic destination.
It starts as so-so, spiky culture clash, with Toni Collette's Aussie geologist and Gotaro Tsunashima's Japanese businessman taking a tour of the Outback, resenting each other's rawness and reserve respectively. Arguing leads to admiration as scripterAlison Tilson trudges down a well-beaten path, before ambling off in an unexpected, welcome direction.
Revealing more would ruin one of the year's most surprising films, which builds off an exceptional performance from Collette, slipping between charm, sexiness and vulnerability. Tsunashima also impresses, while director Sue Brooks offers a refreshing perspective: caressing the male body with a camera so often used to objectify women. The humour is edgy without feeling obvious and the change of tone is a risk that comes off. A unique, involving experience.