Fish Story

"Excellent"

Fish Story Review


With a lively tone and an intricately plotted multi-strand story, this Japanese drama holds our attention using humour, drama and an end-of-the-world scenario.

It's also a thoroughly charming bit of filmmaking.

As a cataclysmic comet approaches in 2012, three guys consider the ahead-of-its-time Japanese punk band Gekirin (meaning "wrath"), which released Fish Story in 1975, a year before the Sex Pistols formed. As they wonder whether music can save the world, we flash back 37 years to meet the bandmates (including Ito and Kora) struggling to stay afloat; shy Masashi (Hamada) in 1982 trying to work out the song's secret message; a cult awaiting Nostradamus' 1999 world-ending event; and a baker (Moriyama) and lost girl Asami (Tabe) who encounter terrorists in 2009.

Filmmaker Nakamura takes a bright, comical approach with a fast pace and snappy dialog, plus flashes of action and emotion. And it also helps that the title song is fiendishly catchy. As it leaps through the decades, the film intriguingly traces the path of a piece of music and its role in events along the way, from romance to violence. The most fleshed-out strand follows the rocky creation of the fateful record, which the producer (Omori) assures them will never sell anyway.

The cast is excellent, effectively weaving each person's story into the film's bigger plot with big personalities and interaction that's often fiery and sometimes touching. On the other hand, it's also somewhat tenuous and fragmented, not to mention random, although it's entertaining to see how each bit of the story fits together into the momentous lifespan of this one song, plus the badly translated book it quotes. And all of this is nicely tied up in a wonderfully clever coda.

Discussions of justice and chance abound, looking at ways people can make a difference in society and make sense of the world. The title Fish Story alone generates a superb discussion about exaggerated claims and personal responsibility. Even more interesting is the song-creation process, as the band grapples with originality versus commerce and tries to figure out how they fit into a society that ignores them. Yet they have no choice but to sing. And they might just save the planet in the process.



Fish Story

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th March 2009

Distributed by: Amuse Soft Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 10

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura

Producer: Yasushi Udagawa

Starring: Kay Tse as Herself

Also starring: ,

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