Ana recommended this movie and said all these things that made me want to watch it, it sounded like it hit on some of the things I always enjoy seeing explored, such as "it perfectly captures what it's like to have an acknowledged place in someone's life - I can't say more without spoilers, but it's about having been close to someone in ways that aren't socially sanctioned, and what you do with all those feelings when you're put in a situation that sort of erases you and you're left to sort them out on your own." YES. This movie definitely explores that and depicts it well.
But let's start at the beginning!
I like that the relationship that sort of forms the heart of the movie starts out reluctantly. Sandy doesn't want to take Hiro around Australia, she feels she's been forced into it, she doesn't know anything about the Japanese, etc. She resents the position she's been put in. We don't actually know much about Sandy except that she doesn't want to do this and what her mother says...that she fears death. This is an unfortunate omen for the film, stating a character's major fear probably means they are going to have to face it. It's kind of interesting, though, her mother says it's a part of life and Sandy thinks she can keep it from happening and it turns out that when Hiro jumps into the shallow water and dies, it's a very raw sudden violent death. It forces Sandy, in so many ways, to be face to face with death in all of its unsanitized and gritty reality. It's the most...like it's the kind of situation you would dread to find yourself in. She has to drag his body out of the water and deal with her own shock and horror and grief and drive for hours with him, and figure out what you do when someone dies like this.
Oh yeah I said the beginning, sigh. Okay I really liked the clashing Japanese and Australian cultures because I lived in Japan for a short while and clashed with both of these cultures! (my flatmates were Australian for the most part) I thought it was so typical that they dragged him out for a night of karaoke because of course he'd love karaoke being Japanese--never mind that karaoke can be a lot more fun, relaxed, and intimate in Japan than in an Australian bar. And he had to get so drunk to get through it. He wanted to see the mines or whatever (what he was actually doing there I was always a little fuzzy on, but it was a business trip) and so Sandy was recruited to drive him all around.
I thought again bad omen! when he remarked to her that in Japan they had many people and not a lot of space, but in Australia they had not many people and a lot of space and it scared him. And so then they promptly got the car stuck. And that was, of course, the turning point...both for them as friends/lovers and for Hiro as a individual as he was forced to figure out how to survive. And so began the happy stage of their trip, where they were sexing it up and having fun. But it couldn't last, it was never meant to last and it was cut so cruelly short.
Ana mentioned that it's a rare instance where this is the story of a female who has a brief encounter with someone and it changes them and that's true...but it's funny because this is the way Hiro intends to use Sandy all along. He says she changed him, that he feels lighter and in the note she gets from his widow, he wrote that he could now be a good father, husband, etc. He was fully on the path to having met a girl and having his life changed. But it's never truly his story, he meets death before it can be...but it becomes Sandy's story of what do you do when you've had this sort of brief intense experience with someone but it's cut short in the most savage way possible and no one can really know about it? And she's left to grapple with what the entire thing meant to her.
I liked that they had their little fling out in the wilderness. It made sense, because when they were in the city we were constantly reminded of the ways in which they were different, Australian and Japanese. But once it became just the two of them and they got the car unstuck a space was created for that relationship to exist. But it was the only place it could exist, it wasn't practical that it could be anything more than it was.
I'm so curious to hear what everyone else thought of this movie? I found it sad and bittersweet, but also interesting. Thanks for a great rec, Ana!
Next Film Club is October 30th and we'll be discussing The Garden at Books and Movies!