Guess who’s coming to dinner? In Sue Brooks’s dead-serious Japanese Story, a white Australian geologist gets to teach a stuffy Japanese businessman how to use a fork and knife and tell the difference between desert and dessert. When the polite but misogynistic Hiromitsu (Gotaro Tsunashima) asks (no, demands!) the finger-licking progressive Sandy (an excellent Toni Collette) to take him Gerrymandering into the Australian Outback, the geologist’s truck sparks an interracial shag. But Australia and Japan come together in more ways than one—on cue, Elizabeth Drake’s happy-go-lucky score (think My So-Called Life meets Perfect Strangers) swaps the didgeridoo for the Asian horns. Not only is everyone lost in translation, the filmmakers ridiculously play Sandy and Hiromitsu’s culture clash for world-weary gravitas. “In Japan, we have many people,” says Hiromitsu to an obviously annoyed Sandy (mind you, this is before the shag), studying the vastness of the Outback before the film’s mise-en-scène takes a turn for the grimly Japanese (Brooks’s direction is a bogus put-on). Well meaning? I suppose. Japanese Story is essentially a sheltered Australian housewife’s contribution to world affairs, and as such should appeal to those who prefer their love stories tepid or anyone who’s never actually seen an Asian person in their life. Excuse me while I return to the 21st century.
- Sue Brooks
- Alison Tilson
- Toni Collette, Gotaro Tsunashima, Matthew Dyktynski, Lynette Curran, Kate Atkinson, John Howard, Bill Young, Reg Evans
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