Ice Cold And A Deadly Catch: Cold Fish

Ice Cold And A Deadly Catch: Cold Fish

Static Mass Rating: 3/5
Third Window Films 

Release date: June 27th 2011
Certificate (UK): 18
Running time: 145 minutes

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

Director: Shion Sono

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

Throwing groceries into her basket with reckless abandon to a soundtrack of a beating drum, Takeo (Megumi Kagurazaka) seems angry, a little crazy. Tossing the prepackaged items into a microwave, bash, bash, bash, then blam, a wall of silence as she serves dinner to her husband, Shamoto (Mitsuru Fukikoshi) and step-daughter Mitsuko (Hikari Kajiwara).

Oh. As it turns out, this tense and silent dinner is as utopic is life gets in Cold Fish. Oh, indeed.

Cold Fish

Mitsuko, cute and surly, is caught shoplifting after skipping out with her older boyfriend. This leads repressed, mild-mannered Shamoto to overly-friendly Murata, reminiscent of Takeshi Kitano in Battle Royale (2000). “Too quickly”, they become friends and business partners, and so begins the downward spiral of his quiet, suburban life.

The violence and depravity was a notch above anything I have seen ever before on film. Admittedly, this isn’t my genre of choice, but gross, too much! There’s violence and gore in abundance. The sense of unease doesn’t so much linger, but thump throughout the entire picture. The pacing remains taut throughout the entire film, a feat as it stands at 145 minutes in length.

Cold Fish

For when you get bored or disillusioned from the stabbing and the poisoning and the maiming, there’s a bit sex to perk you up, from nubile teenage buttock peeking out from the underside of camo booty-shorts, to out-and-out doing the bonk. There’s also a high nipple count and lots of not-so-surreptitious down-the-shirt cleavage shots. But it’s also quite rape heavy, which isn’t cool. I’m not on board with the rape.

Murata genuinely made me feel uneasy, every time he laughed my insides turned to liquid. Every time Shamoto was dragged deeper and deeper, I squirmed, his helplessness palpable. Mitusko was a bit of a non-character, something of a plot device to throw the family into the path of Murata and his sexy deranged wife, Aoki.

Cold Fish

Knowing that it was based on a true story disconcerted me even more, oh the humanity. I was left desperately Googling pictures of puppies trying to fill the gaping void of comfort gnawing at my soul.

Cold Fish is undoubtedly a picture of its genre, and I can completely understand why Arpad Lukacs gave this five stars in his cinema review (here). It’s very well made, but I couldn’t get past the content and actually enjoy it.


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Whilst I’m here to discuss quality, not morality, this is definitely a film that my mother should miss. Its content is visceral and unavoidable.

The subtexts are interesting, exploring human responsibility, familial dysfunction, and what happens when a man is pushed to his limits and snaps.

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