"Unflinching and unconscionable... a black comedy with an obsidian pitch, a queer balancing act of outrageous humor and fathomless gore... a fine example of challenging world cinema" — John McEntree, SOUND ON SIGHT
"Absolutely fearless filmmaking" — Bob Turnbull, ROW THREE
Director: Sion Sono
Screenplay: Sion Sono, Yoshiki Takahashi
Cast: Mitsuru Kukikoshi, Denden, Asuka Kurosawa, Megumi Kagurazaka, Hikari Kajiwara
Producers: Yoshinori Chiba, Toshiki Kimura
Print Source: Nikkatsu/Bloody Disgusting Selects
North american Premiere
2011 | 33 min
Korean language, English subtitles
From the director of such modern masterpieces as LOVE EXPOSURE and SUICIDE CLUB comes this unshakably powerful journey into depravity — within Japan’s tropical-fish industry. That might sound a little funny, and like all of Sion Sono’s works, COLD FISH is loaded with surprising bursts of black comedy, but make no mistake, this is a film that will leave you with your jaw on the ground and your heart in pieces.
Based in part on a true story, Sono’s latest Molotov cocktail tells the tale of a timid fish store owner named Shamoto. He operates his humble shop as a family-run business, working alongside his wife and their rebellious teen daughter Mitsuko. At one time, Shamoto must have felt that this lifestyle would unify his family, but in practice, nothing could be further from the truth. By sheer chance, he crosses paths with Murata (cult comedian Denden — you’ll recognize him from CURE and UZUMAKI). Murata’s a gregarious kingpin in the tropical fish business, whose megastore and showbiz personality both eclipse Shamoto’s in every way. As a “goodwill gesture,” he hires Mitsuko to join his cult-like floor staff — comprised exclusively of runaways and troubled girls from broken homes. Before long, Murata reveals his true colours, those of a batshit-crazy mass murderer. By sheer force of personality, mixed with a good dose of intimidation, he forces Shamoto to help him clean up his crimes, implicating him in the acts and distorting his life in unimaginable ways. Over the span of weeks, Shamoto learns everything he needs to know in the art of bodily dismemberment. And what his family really means to him.
Cinema has a history of survival narratives centered around meek protagonists getting pushed to their breaking point before lashing out in redemptive fury, ultimately finding themselves by living through trauma. This is decidedly not one of those films. COLD FISH is more about self-destruction than self-preservation, the anger of disappointment and the muffled horror of losing one’s soul through simply not caring any more. At the same time, being a Sono film, it’s a staggeringly well-performed work that explodes with life, passion and hysteria, with sex, kink and ultra-violence, and with the most twisted sense of humour that a filmmaker could possibly throw at an audience. By turns heart-stopping and hilarious, but always dark to the core, COLD FISH is one of the most poignant and inspired films of the year.