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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.04.10] movie review news horror thriller

Year: 2010
Director: Sion Sono
Writers: Sion Sono, Yoshiki Takahashi
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 8 out of 10

It’s been years since I’ve seen any of Sono Sion’s films but my return to the Japanese director is marked by what I remember best of my previous encounter (Suicide Club) with the director’s work: gleeful, open-mouthed awe.

Touted as being based on a true story (word is that it was inspired by a story of some treacherous dog-breeders) – likely labelled as such solely for the shock value, Cold Fish takes place in the no-so-cut-throat world of tropical sales. Shamoto lives with his second wife (who he is growing distant from) and his daughter, a troubled young woman whose life is spiralling out of control under the overlooking eye of her father, behind his small shop of tropical fish tanks which are populated with cheerfully bright fish. Shamoto’s shell of a life (he seems uninterested and vacant) is turned upside down when his troubled daughter is caught for shoplifting and then rescued from jail by Murata, the owner of a much larger tropical fish store.

It’s clear from his introduction that something is not quite right with the overtly friendly Murata who offers to hire and mind Shamoto’s daughter, explaining that the job will teach her responsibility and cure her of her ill ways. From here, Shion shifts view points and we see the goings on behind the closed doors of Murata’s business. He and his wife are vicious vultures who kill whenever it suits them and when Shamoto is embroiled in a plan that ends with the murder and disembodiment of a business partner, Shamoto cracks, unfolding a 30 minute series of events that gets stranger and bloodier with each passing minute.

What I love most about Sion’s film is that while on the surface it’s a highly enjoyable tale of quiet terror, murder and gore, it’s one that is constructed from great performances and a script that gets at underlying issues of family, personal happiness and jaded youth. Before the arrival of Murata, Shamoto is despondent, trapped in a life where he seems emasculated. He’s powerless to control his daughter and his wife is cold and distant but the introduction of violence into his life wakes him from his stupor.

What Sion is getting at here, the idea that violence can be (and in this case is) the catalyst to re-invigorate one’s life, is troubling but also a keen observation into our culture where violence is a common staple and makes daily appearances in news and entertainment. With the closing scene, Sion makes some interesting connections between youth and power which can be read as a warning of the perils of letting a young generation take control before they’re ready or fully understand the repercussions of their wild ways.

An unflinching, gut churning thriller, Sono Sion’s Cold Fish is an ugly little tale which will satisfy horror fans while also providing a little extra for those willing to look beyond the gore. Be forewarned: this isn’t an exercise for the faint of heart (or stomach).

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Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

Sion Sono (correct spelling is on the poster) is a genius. I suggest you also try out 'Exte' and or 'Love Exposure 'to see him at his best.

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