Cold Fish

Cold Fish

Static Mass Rating: 5/5
COLD FISH (aka Tsumetai nettaigyo) (CINEMA)
Third Window Films 

Release date: April 8th 2011
Certificate (UK): 18
Running time: 144 minutes

Original language: Japanese

Director: Shion Sono

Cast: Makoto Ashikawa, Denden, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Megumi Kagurazaka, Hikari Kajiwara

Japanese director Sion Sono’s Cold Fish is a seemingly straightforward story, based on true events, about the fall of a mild-mannered fish shop owner. But it’s also a story of how repression and refusing to deal with problems can sometimes have tragic outcomes.

Sono also further explores the unbridgeable generation gap between parent and adolescent here as he did with Suicide Club (2002) and its sequel Noriko’s Dinner Table (2006).

Cold Fish

Shamoto (Mitsuro Fukikoshi) runs a small tropical fish shop while his dysfunctional family is slowly falling apart. After his daughter, Mitsuko (Hikari Kajiwara), is caught shoplifting, they meet Murata (Denden), who also owns a tropical fish shop.

Murata is successful, assertive, drives a Ferrari and takes a liking to Shamoto and his family. Without hesitation, he hires Shamoto’s daughter to work in his shop and Shamoto is soon Murata’s new business partner, but it all goes downhill from there.

Cold Fish

Murata is a vicious criminal lacking any kind of emotion and Shamoto unwillingly becomes his right hand man in a matter of days.

Fearing for himself and his family, Shamoto is drawn into a dark world of manipulation, betrayal and gruesome murders.

Cold Fish is a terrifying and well paced movie with raw humour to break the almost unbearable scenes of gore, mutilation and pure insanity and it’s not for everyone.

The violence is extremely graphic and incomparable to anything I’ve ever seen. Murata would make Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas (1990) think twice before losing his temper if these two were to run into each other. Murata terrifies not only by his actions, but his presence.

Cold Fish

I also really enjoyed the duality in the ways the film can be read. In that respect, it’s comparable to Pulp Fiction (1994) with its subtext of a divine being looking over and even interfering with the character’s lives.

If we ignore the subtext, Pulp Fiction becomes an entertaining gangster film with witty dialogue and lot of violence.

Similarly, Cold Fish, while it it works for an audience who want a realistic, straightforward gangster film and psychological thriller, also has its own subtext with its distorted mirror image of a very repressed man, for those who like to look a little bit deeper.

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