Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Cold Fish - Third Window Films

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Unless the truth is then filtered by director Sion Sono.

What Sono delivers with "Cold Fish" is a deeply disturbing, shocking, amusing and twisted slice of cinema that will leave you utterly breathless when the final credits roll.

Based on the true story of Gen Sekine, a dog breeder from Urawa, who murdered and disposed of the bodies of four people with the help of his wife.  Sekine poisoned his victims after a disagreement over money in the early 1990's.  After poisoning their victims they took the bodies to a dog breeding ground where they cut them up, burned them and then scattered the remains.  An employee from Sekine's pet shop was also arrested for helping the couple dispose of the bodies.

"Cold Fish" presents the tale through the eyes of miserable Shamoto, a fish breeder and fish shop owner who is loathed by both his beautiful second wife and his wild child teenage daughter.  His life is empty and hollow...Shamoto seems to be similarly empty and hollow.  He is, absolutely, ordinary.  When his daughter is caught shoplifting he is brought into contact with fellow fish shop owner Murata who acts as peacemaker between the daughter and the store manager.  This simple act of kindness brings Murata and Shamoto into close proximity and soon his daughter is a live-in help at Muratas store and his wife is having an affair with him.

When Murata summons Shamoto to a business meeting it isn't because he values the downtrodden mans opionion but because he wants him to witness a murder.  Using poison Murata wipes out a business rival and then drags Shamoto into a world of violence, sex and darkness that may well be unmatched in cinema.  Murata and his wife take Shamoto and the dead body deep into the woods to a ramshackle residence where the husband and wife team slice, dice, burn and dump the dead body...lauging, joking and becoming aroused along the way.

From this point on Sono takes us deep into a twisted hell on earth that will leave even the most hardened of film lovers flinching and wincing right up until the bloody, brutal and blacker than black finale.  Make no mistake about it this is visceral cinema.  What sets it apart from the likes of the grubby shocking for the sake of being shocking "A Serbian Film" is that Sono has crafted characters who are believable and, particularly in the case of Shamoto, likeable.  Additionally Sono refuses to play by the "rules" films like this...redemption and a happy ending are not to be found which makes this a more satisfying film.

"Cold Fish" is not for everyone.  It is upsetting and genuinely shocking in places...even for those who may have spent many a long hour watching extreme Asian cinema or the gore soaked video nasties of the eighties.  However, this is also a rewarding film with incredible performances from all the performers and direction from Sono that marks him out as a man to watch.

"Cold Fish" is showing at cinemas across the UK please visit Third Window Films for details of a screening near you.

Images used in this review were obtained from Third Window Films

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