Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cold Fish

Directed by Sion Sono.
2010. Not Rated, 145 minutes.
Mitsuru Fukikoshi
Asuka Kurosawa
Hikari Kajiwara
Megumi Kagurazaka
Tetsu Watanabe

Right at the beginning we’re told Cold Fish is inspired by true events. Yeesh. Our trek into the bizarre begins when troubled teen Mitsuko (Kajiwara) is caught shoplifting. When her dad Nobuyuki Shamoto (Fukikoshi) and step-mom Taeko (Kagurazaka) come to get her, they meet store-owner, the fun-loving Yukio Murata (Denden). He’s an exotic fish dealer, same as Shamoto, only much more successful. Instead of calling the cops, Murata offers to give Mitsuko a job and to let her live in a dorm, of sorts, with the other girls that work for him. Since things aren't exactly great between any combination of the three members of the Shamoto household, and Murata and his wife Aiko (Kurosawa) seem harmless enough, Mr. Shamoto agrees. Besides, Murata drives a shiny red Ferrari. As expected, he’s not all he cracks himself up to be. Sure, Mitsuko is a cute young girl and that’s the road my mind traveled in trying to figure what Murata is really up to. That ain't it.

In rather short order, things turn down a dark road. Murata traps Shamoto into a shady business deal that includes making him an accomplice to murder, among other things. Don’t worry. That’s only the beginning. Eventually, we get into adultery, rough sex, domestic violence, more murder, rape, exhibitionism, more murder, and lots and lots of fun with really bloody corpses. A great deal of it is in shocking detail. After this, you’ll no longer have to imagine how to properly dispose of a body and not leave any evidence. To call this movie morbid is selling it way short.

That said, things seem to be coming to a logical conclusion. However, just when we think its coming to an end is when it really flies off the rails. The problem is the point that it appeared we were working toward is rendered completely moot. What promised to provide some form of social commentary through its extremes opts to become a gore-fest enamored with its own pools of blood.

Until now, the only movie I’d seen by director Sion Sono was the fabulously disturbing Strange Circus. As weird and twisted as that movie is, it all works. The story and its visuals somehow both manage to be simultaneously repulsive and compelling. Eventually, it all comes together in a “wow” moment. I couldn't believe what I just saw, but I loved it. Cold Fish is a cruder, and amazingly, more baffling film that reaches for the same qualities possessed by SC but never quite gets there. It just keeps pushing the envelope until it flies off the table then pushes some more. The ending is something far beyond cynical, seemingly just for the sake of being so. To its credit, though, even with all the grotesque and simply distasteful visuals you can’t take your eyes off CF. You may cringe and cover your face, but will probably still watch through parted fingers. This is not a movie you’re likely to forget.

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