November 6th, 2010

Cold Fish (2010)

Director: Sion Sono | Run time: 144 min

Review written by Colin Dibben

Sion Sono’s family drama gorefest tells the story of Shamoto, a tropical fish shop owner who is sucked into the orbit of the charismatic and much more successful competitor, Murata – and finds himself being business mentored by a psychopath.

Part of Murata’s success is down to the fact that he employs ‘troubled’, busty young girls in high-cropped camouflage shorts and tight t-shirts to help run his store. But it also helps that he is a mass murderer, stealing from and killing investors and competitors; then ‘making them invisible’ by transporting the bodies to a mountain hideout and dismembering them into parts the size of chicken nuggets.

Shamoto is a bit of a worm, a weak and downtrodden man, ridiculed by his teenage daughter and unloved by his younger, second wife. Until he is made aware of the nightmare truth, the friendship of Murata and his distinctly kinky wife, Aiko, appears to be exactly what his life requires. Especially as Murata is keen to turn Shamoto into a disciple of his own brand of self-help philosophy.

The family drama soon turns into a vortex of humiliation, murder and gore – and many viewers will find the scenes of extreme verbal humiliation, non-consensual sex, rape, domestic abuse and dismemberment too extreme. Nor am I quite sure what the message of the film is: a critique of late capitalist individualism and its meltdown effect on family values? Sounds a bit old-fashioned...

A weird allegory from the writer-director of the deliriously overblown Love Exposure - which turned the lives of the Japanese ‘henta’ (pervert) or ‘hentai’ (perverts), especially the ‘upskirt photographer’, into a four hour fairy tale – Cold Fish is both disturbing and rather enjoyable.

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