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Australia 1991
Directed by
Solrun Hoass
95 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars


Aya is a remarkable first feature by Norwegian-born documentary maker, Solrun Hoass. It tells the story of a Japanese war bride (Eri Ishida), whose name gives the film its title, from her kimono-clad arrival in country Victoria in the immediate post-war period to two decades later, divorced with a grown-up son and working as a translator for the Japanese fishing fleet based in Hobart.

Although dealing with the problems that Aya faces this is not your typical “issue” film which often can be quite well-meaningfully strident. Instead, Hoass, who also wrote and co-produced this, concentrates on her subject’s personal life as she tries to be wife, mother, daughter and daughter-in-law, Hoass's script balancing the different aspects of her subject’s life with assuredness. Nicholas Eadie who plays Aya’s husband is a real asset here in his portrayal of a man torn between two worlds, that represented by his wife’s culturally-determined refinement and the White Australian ockerism in which he has been brought up.

The role of an older friend (Chris Haywood) of the couple who grows closer to Aya over time is perhaps too obviously a structural convenience, particularly towards the end as Hoass tries to move the story forward over its lengthy time span but given the nature of the production this is a very impressive debut.




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