They Say Nothing Stays the Same

Directed by Joe Odagiri
Film Movement
137 Minutes
Drama, Asian
Not Rated
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In the debut directorial feature by actor Joe Odagiri, They Say Nothing Stays the Same follows an old ferryman in a remote Meiji-era community. His life is a peaceful, cyclical existence, given meaning by the essential role he plays in transporting people, livestock and goods across the water, connecting villages and lives. When news arrives that a bridge is being built, it's clear that his services will no longer be needed. Meanwhile, his life will be equally transformed by the appearance of a mysterious young woman whom he saves from drowning. Shot by star cinematographer Christopher Doyle and featuring an array of cameos from Japan's top stars, The Say Nothing Stays the Same is a refreshingly old-fashioned work of classical cinema, its formal qualities mirroring its thematic concern with those fondly-remembered traditions sacrificed in the name of progress.


  • Akira Emoto
  • Ririka Kawashima
  • Nijirô Murakami
  • Masatoshi Nagase
  • Tsuyoshi Ihara
  • Yû Aoi
DVD Features

Bonus Short Film

School Radio to Major Tom
Directed by Takuya Chisaka
Japanese with English subtitles
10 minutes

A shy high school student thinks no one listens to the science-fiction radio drama he produces daily until one day he starts to receive recorded responses from a mysterious female student.

Sound: 5.1 Surround & 2.0 Stereo

Discs: 1

  • Highest Rating
    "It’s a dreamy, unexpectedly rigorous debut that ... ends with an emotional bang.... Its path is lit by some dazzling modern credits from cult DP Christopher Doyle and Armenian jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan."
    Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter
  • Highest Rating
    "[A] Zen-like, meditative and gleaming feature film debut.... In addition to Emoto’s magnificent, minimalist performance as the humble, haunted boatman, recalling some of the great performances of Italian neo-realism... one of the glories of “They Say Nothing Stays the Same” is the luminous cinematography of Christopher Doyle (“Hero,” “In the Mood for Love”), which transforms the locations into works of visual art evocative of Ukiyo-e. Also adding to the film’s dark magic is the score by Armenian jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan."
    James Verniere, The Boston Herald
  • Highest Rating
    "They Say Nothing Stays the Same stands as a strong, pensive debut. Christopher Doyle’s impeccable, classical lensing fits thematically, with its lack of flash, giving the film a suitable timeless aura. Getting older and behind the times is a point we will all reach in life sooner or later, a timeless idea. The world must move forward, but what do we leave behind? Odagiri, in his early forties, seems to have reached that point and has crafted a sad lament for a loss of culture and tradition and the hunger for more than is sufficient. "
    Marc van de Klashorst, International Cinephile Society
  • Highest Rating
    "They Say Nothing Stay The Same is an exquisitely shot meditation about the impact of change on society and subjectivity. In short, a splendid debut by Odagiri Jo."
    Pieter-Jan Van Haecke, Eastern Kicks
  • Highest Rating
    "They Say Nothing Stays The Same is a film that demands to be watched and felt. Despite being a film that consists mainly of vignettes, the film strings them together masterfully to serve a strong core narrative. It is the perfect balance of the mundane and the magical. It leaves you room for your own interpretations while letting you immerse yourself in the stunning visuals. The film is easily one of my favourites now. A timeless, soon-to-be-classic."
    Evangelique Poh, Sinema
  • Highest Rating
    "Odagiri’s somber observations about transitional issues within traditionalist communities make this slow disquisition of a dying occupation a rewarding experience. Given the expertise of the assembled crew, the film unsurprisingly looks gorgeous: with his customary flair, cinematographer Christopher Doyle capitalizes on the picturesque potential of Japan’s stunning river bends, while Academy Award-winning costume designer Emi Wada authentically captures the quaintness of rural living. "
    Calum Reed, In Review
  • Highest Rating
    "Stunning visuals and a stellar cast."
    James Hadfield, The Japan Times
  • Highest Rating
    "A Meiji-set lament for changing times, Odagiri’s first feature ... is a visual tour de force shot by Christopher Doyle ... whose ethereal images of the majestic Japanese landscape with its misty vistas and rolling river perfectly compliment Odagiri’s poetic contemplation of transience and goodness. "
    Hayley Scanlon, Windows on Worlds
  • Highest Rating
    "Melodramatic, stately and beautiful...."
    Roger Moore, Movie Nation
  • Highest Rating
    "A postcard pretty film…A large part of the film’s appeal comes from that natural splendor and the lives Toichi glimpses while making one trip after another."
    Nicolas Rapold, The New York Times
  • Highest Rating
    "Each verdant frame has the prized value of uncut jade, with characters overwhelmed by the fecund and potentially supernatural power of their surroundings."
    Benjamin Poole, The Movie Waffler
  • Highest Rating
    "Christopher Doyle's captivating cinematography invites the viewer into this bend in the river, capturing the balance of the stillness that is Toichi's life and constant movement of the river itself."
    Ryan Silberstein, MovieJawn

Awards & Recognition

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