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Movie Review: Japanese Story

Alternate Title: The Dingo Ate My Script!

Story: Director Sue Brooks' film veers ever so close to being really good. But, the script, by Alison Tilson is muddled, untidy and incomplete.

Geologist Sandy Edwards is roped into acting as a tour guide and driver for a young, troubled Japanese industrialist as he visits the very isolated area of Australia, Pilbara where his company does a great deal of business.

The film starts out as a culture clash, gender gap, survival tale and socio-economic essay. It works well as we develop an interest in both characters and their relationship evolves. The outback becomes one of the main characters as we feel ever so small against its enormity and agelessness.

Without warning the film takes a sudden, unexpected turn (which I confess caused me to audibly gasp -- and I am not one who gasps). If this part of the film has been written better it would have worked - but it somehow drifts and ambles towards the conclusion.

Is this film worth your while? I think despite its flaws it is worth your time to see an outstanding performance by Toni Collette and the outback.

Acting: Toni Collette is back! After making far too many blockbuster type films where she is reduced to the sniveling, tearful young mother or playing the goofy friend she is right where she belongs. She gives a powerful, believable performance in a role that stretches her all over the map. Gotaro Tsunashma was intriguing as the young industrialist. The Australian outback was solid.

Predilection: None.

Critters: None.

Food: Some unappealing Australian fare.

Visual Art: The landscape knocks your socks off.

Blatant Product Placement: Hertz and Quantas

Soundtrack: Some heavy handed Japanese music.

Opening Titles: I don't recall any introduction at all.

Theater Audience: About twenty bold souls who braved the frigid New York temperatures to go to a see a film in a very cold theater.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Predictability Level: I had no idea where this film was headed.

Tissue Usage: A surprising one tissue was needed.

Oscar Worthy: Toni Collette gave one heck of a performance.

Nit Picking: The script cried out for some tidying up. The seismic shifts in the film were not seamless.

Big Screen or Rental: I think this kind of landscape shouts out for the big screen. For some of Toni Collette's other film you could rent: The Hours, About a Boy, The Sixth Sense, Velvet Goldmine, Clockwatchers, Emma and the wonderful Muriel's Wedding.

Length: 110 minutes.