(Solrun Hoaas, Australia, 1991)


Aya, an Australian film written and directed by Solrun Hoaas, is notable only for its interesting subject matter.

Drawing on material uncovered in her fine documentary Green Tea and Cherry Ripe (1988), Hoaas here attempts to tell a story about an emblematic Japanese woman (Eri Ishida as Aya) in an inhospitable post-war Australia.

The film has worthy intentions and isolated expressive moments, but fails badly as cinema. In a story that covers many years, Hoaas conveys neither the changes in the external world, nor the emotional transformations occurring within characters.

Dialogue scenes are woodenly scripted and staged. Towards the end, it becomes unclear even what is happening.

Aya is the example of a film that some supporters of Australian cinema may be tempted to over-praise, projecting into it an excellence it simply does not possess.

In the context of a fragile local industry, this is understandable. But it does not rule out the awful truth that if Aya was a modest Dutch film unreeling one night on SBS television, it wouldn’t raise more than a passing regard from cinema lovers and pundits.

© Adrian Martin October 1991

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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