When love doesn't conquer all

Wednesday, October 2, 1991

When love doesn't conquer all

Aya
Written and directed by Solrun Hoaas
Starring Eri Ishida, Nicholas Eadie, Chris Haywood, Christopher Parker and Jed Chedwiggen
Kino Melbourne beginning October 18
Reviewed by Ulrike Erhardt

This is a little gem. The story of a Japanese woman, Aya, who marries Frank, an Australian soldier, a few years after World War II, it shows the explosiveness of a migrant marriage.

The couple face hostility from her family, which sees Frank as the enemy and forces her to live a life of deception. From the other side, Aya is seen as an "undesirable alien" by Australians.

Both suffer culture shock from the start, but these obstacles seem to be overcome because "love conquers all" — at least to begin with. However, when their son Ken grows up, a rift opens between them because Ken helps Aya gain confidence, which makes Frank's ego crumble. Solrun Hoaas not only explores clashing cultures but also delves into the difficult subject of how men and women relate to each other.

In her first feature film, Hoaas handles the delicate subject of interracial relationships in a totally believable manner, with a lot of insight and even more heart. Geoff Burton, who directed the photography, shows the fullness of life through colours and an excellent eye for details. Eri Ishida, who plays Aya, is one of Japan's most popular and versatile actresses and is well backed by Nicholas Eadie as Frank and Mac (Chris Haywood), the auspicious third man.

Hoaas crams a lot into Aya, and I lost the thread occasionally. She also shifts the point of view towards the end of the film. But these are minor flaws in an otherwise excellent script. Aya is for mature people, a must for everyone who considers living with someone of a different nationality and a well of information about what relationships are about.

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