Joe Harmon (played by Bryan Brown) rocks! And so does this whole movie, based on Nevil Shute's superb novel of the same name. It starts well, picks up speed, and gets better and better. During WWII, Jean (who is her family's only survivor) is force marched back and forth across Malaysia by the Japanese, who don't know what to do with a bunch of English women and children. As their group dwindles from starvation, fatigue, malaria and dystntery, Jean becomes the leader of the little group, and she negotiates a deal with the headman of a small village whose men have been taken off to fight in the war: if the village will shelter them, the surviving English will work in the rice fields.
But it was during the months of wandering that Jean met Joe Harmon, an Austrailian prisoner of war who steals food for her, is crucified and left for dead by the Japanese.
After the war, when Jean is back in England, she comes into her family's money, and she has a dream: to return to Malaya to build a well for the village women. To her amazement, she learns that Harmon actually survived: when the Japanese could not grant him his last wish, they were honor bound to save his life. Jean goes back to find him at the same time he, having just discovered that she wasn't married when he met her (a deception she fostered for her own protection), flies to England to look for her. The two planes cross.
But, as with most good love stories, they meet - and things are awkward and stilted. When he knew her, her hair was loose and tangled, she was barefoot and wearing a sarong, and she had an orphan child balanced on her hip. Now when he sees her, she's an English lady - and he's still just a bloke from the outback.
Oh, I'm telling too much. Suffice to say that Jean's attempt to resume their former easy and relaxed relationship while in Australia's Great Barrier Reef is spectacularly successful, and she's faced with spending the rest of her life in the desolate and lonely outback. Alice Springs, the nearest thing to 'civilization,' is too far to go, so Jean determines to spend her small fortune turning her little nowhere town into a place from which the young people will no longer flee in frustration. In short, she creates the world in which she wants to live and raise Joe's and her children.
It's so, so, so, so good, one of those videos you'll have to buy. Trust me on that.