The Herald Sun (2004)
Toni's story splits critics
January 06, 2004
Toni Collette's Japanese Story is apparently "one of the year's best screen performances", "compelling" and a "stunning film".

But then again it's also "largely unnecessary" with "really annoying" characters which will end up "fading from memory". Oh, and "Toni Collette does not have a big bum".

These are some of the mixed reviews director Sue Brooks' Oscar contender has received since opening over the new year in Tinseltown.

While some US critics are raving, others are talking of "terminal boredom", not least the respected LA Times critic Glenn Whipp who wrote under the headline "Japanese-Aussie romance goes down painfully dry".

Possibly dashing what has been a serious hope for another Aussie Oscar in Collette's performance, Whipp says Brooks' story is a "slight film" that "isn't all that bad; it's just largely unnecessary".

Another thing that "really bothered" Whipp was: "For a movie about a couple of rock hounds, the characters strangely don't seem to have the remotest interest in geology ... in the midst of the movie's world-weary ennui, I could have used a good conversation about geodes.

"At least I would have learned something."

Others, however have been kinder. Also in the city where most Oscar voters live - Los Angeles - a full-page profile story with a large photo of a smiling Collette appeared in the Los Angeles Times followed by a glowing review by critic Kevin Thomas.

"In the decade since Muriel's Wedding, Australia's Toni Collette has emerged as one of cinema's most beguiling and versatile actresses," he said. The movie was "... a compelling and edgy love story with a twist, offers her a gutsy all-stops-out role worthy of Barbara Stanwyck, and she makes the absolute most of it".