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字 幕翻訳者の戯言 アーカイ ヴ     179          < リスト へ >
They Say Nothing Stays The Same(オダギリジョー監督「ある船頭の話」)
"The boatman is quiet but very humane" repeats one of the minor characters in Japanese actor Joe Odagiri's impressive directorial debut, They Say Nothing Stays The Same, which has been selected for showing the 76th Venice film festival. This line perfectly describes not only the movie's lead character, but also the film itself. Taking place at an undisclosed point in time (seemingly around the late 19th Century), They Say Nothing Stays The Same provides a portrait of the cyclical daily routine of the aforementioned elderly boatman, Toichi, portrayed with a subtle melancholy by Akira Emoto. Toichi lives by a picturesque riverbank in the Japanese countryside and seemingly derives his sense of purpose in life from his job ferrying the local villagers back and forth across the river.

Emoto is accompanied by Nijiro Murakami (who recently starred alongside Emoto in The Promised Land) playing a young friend of Toichi and Ririka Kawashima, who plays a seemingly mute amnesiac girl who Toichi rescues from drowning in the river. The simple yet peaceful life that these three characters share together is threatened by the development of a new bridge over the river that could put Toichi out of business. This notion of human labour being made redundant by the introduction of technology forms one of the film's core themes, with the boatman struggling to find his place in an ever-evolving world.

The rural setting provides for some impressive scenery including misty riverbanks and snow covered mountains, all of which is expertly captured by veteran cinematographer Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love, Hero). These beautiful landscapes are accentuated by the film's slow, deliberate pacing, with plenty of lengthy shots of the surrounding nature. The relaxed presentation allows the audience time to gradually build a sense of empathy for Toichi as we grow to know him over the course of the film. The narrative's structure is somewhat episodic, with many scenes depicting the boatman ferrying a colourful cast of villagers across the river. These passengers, played by a who's who of accomplished Japanese actors, all take the opportunity to chat with Toichi about what's on their mind, but it seems that most of them are too preoccupied with themselves to take much interest in his life. Overall, the film evokes a feeling of appreciation for life's simpler aspects, and leaves the viewer feeling that convenience is not necessarily always an improvement.
Text by Hugh Wilson Nettlebeck

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