Memory & Desire

by Niki Caro

1998 Selection

NEW ZEALAND 1998 1h29

Feature Film

The lifeless body of a handsome young Japanese man is hauled from the New Zealand surf. Sayo, his distraught wife, has to be restrained as the lifesavers strive vainly to resuscitate him. Minutes earlier she and Keiji were making love, with an intensity they would not have believed possible, as if their lives depended on it. They had travelled to New Zealand to marry, away from the disapproving gaze of Mrs Nakajima, Keiji's intimidating mother, who had always opposed the match. Embarking on a honeymoon tour of the country, they began to navigate the uncharted waters of their sexual relationship. Sayo was older and more experienced than Keiji, who, despite his passionate enthusiasm, found himself unable to consummate the marriage. As the tour rolled on and Keiji and Sayo became absorbed in their deeply private world, their bond became ever more powerful, until their souls began to overcome the fragility of the flesh. In an isolated cave they ultimately reached the fulfilment of their union and, truly happy for the first time, Keiji took his final walk along that lethal shoreline. After Keiji's death, Sayo returns to Tokyo, accompanied by his body. She moves in with Mrs Nakajima, determined to love her and to mourn with her. But she is rejected by the grief - stricken family, to blame Sayo for Keiji's fate. Sayo finds the stifling formality of the funeral rituals empty - she feels Keiji's spirit is in another place. So she returns to New Zealand and to the cave where her most powerful memory resides. Exhausted and starving, she begs Keiji forgiveness and pleads for him to return. Within the majestic waveswept landscape she finds the peace she is seeking.