Baltimore Sun

By Michael Sragow
The glory of Japanese Story is that even after a daringly abrupt plot turn, the cast maintains its empathy and lucidity without interruption.
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Philadelphia Inquirer

By Steven Rea
Plays with cultural stereotypes, and upends them as well. The picture starts as one thing and turns, dramatically, movingly, into something else.
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Chicago Tribune

By Michael Wilmington
A movie with surprises, some of which you should discover for yourself. But its main surprises may be the power of Collette's performance and the beautifully controlled mood and atmosphere Brooks creates.
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Chicago Sun-Times

By Roger Ebert
Gradually the full arc of Toni Collette's performance reveals itself, and we see that the end was there even in the beginning. This is that rare sort of film that is not about what happens, but about what happens then.
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Entertainment Weekly

By Lisa Schwarzbaum
This is an origami story, really, about what a construction of chance the big world is.
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New York Daily News

By Jack Mathews
Japanese Story could have been a two-character play staged in front of a desert mural. It wouldn't have been as pretty, but it's that tight.
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Rolling Stone

By Peter Travers
Tsunashima is superb, and a never-better Collette (The Sixth Sense, About a Boy, The Hours) has a radiant intensity that hits you right in the heart. She burns this movie into your memory.
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The Hollywood Reporter

By Michael Rechtshaffen
This offbeat take on "The African Queen" stumbles on a couple of awkward transitions, but generally succeeds on the merits of Collette's unerring ability to carry the viewer along her constantly changing emotional landscape.
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Boston Globe

By Ty Burr
Best taken as a dazzling showcase for Collette, an actress who fits none of Hollywood's ideas of glamour or artistry, yet who grows like a beautiful outback weed with each new role she takes.
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San Francisco Chronicle

By Mick LaSalle
To mildly respect Japanese Story is easy. To enjoy it would require an act of will.
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73 out of 100
Generally favorable reviews
Metascore® based on all critic reviews. Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.