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Cold Fish

Cold Fish

By Arpad Lukacs • March 24th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
COLD FISH (MOVIE)
Third Window Films

Original release: April 8th 2011
Certificate (UK): 18
Running time: 144 minutes

Country of origin: Japan
Original language: Japanese with English subtitles

Director: Shion Sono
Writers: Sion Sono, Yoshiki Takahashi

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.

Arpad Lukacs

Arpad Lukacs

Arpad is a Film Studies graduate and passionate photographer (he picked up the camera and started taking stills just as he began his studies of moving pictures). He admires directors that can tell a story first of all in images. More or less inevitably, Brian De Palma has become Aprad’s favourite filmmaker.

Then there’s Arpad’s interest in anime. He was just a boy when he saw Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind on an old VHS and was hypnotised by the story of friendship, devotion and sacrifice. He still marvels at the uncompromising and courageous storytelling in Japanese anime, and wonders about the western audience with its ever growing appetite for “Japanemation”.

Have a look at Arpad's photography site, and you can follow him on Twitter @arpadlukacs.

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