Cold Fish

11/18/2017 10:29

Film: Cold Fish (Tsumetai nettaigyo)

Year: 2010

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono and Yoshiki Takahashi

Starring: Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Denden and Asuka Kurosawa



This film was one that I never heard of until getting into Movie Club Challenge for the Podcast Under the Stairs. Duncan selected this movie and I was shocked by it, in a good way. I liked it so much that I actually bought the Blu-Ray from Arrow when I got my region free player. It is one that I’ve been meaning to revisit and I’m now doing that as part of the Summer Challenge Series for TPUTS as this popped up on the 2011 list. The synopsis here is the lives of bored suburban couple are changed forever when a seemingly nice old man gives their daughter a job at his fish store. Soon his gruesome hobbies are brought to light.

We are informed that this based on a true story. We then see a woman grabbing some things from the store. Her name is Taeko Shamoto (Megumi Kagurazaka). She then goes home and starts dinner. Everything that she makes is from the microwave and originally frozen. We then see that she is married to Nobuyuki (Mitsuru Fukikoshi). He has a daughter who is a teenager by the name of Mitsuko (Hikari Kajiwara). We learn later that Shamoto’s first wife passed away and Taeko is the younger stepmother to Mitsuko. The daughter is currently rebelling and leaves with her boyfriend in the middle of dinner.

We see from their interactions that Taeko is unhappy. Shamoto is too quiet to do anything and he is lacking backbone. It is raining and Taeko sneaks off to have a cigarette. Shamoto gets a call that his daughter has been caught shoplifting. He runs a fish shop that specializes in exotic ones. The married couple goes off into the night to the store that is detaining his daughter. It should be pointed out that as they’re leaving, Shamoto catches his wife smoking, but pretends not to notice. He even calls her name to give her a minute to hide what she’s doing.

They go to the store and the security guard is going off about Mitsuko. He goes as far to say that he wants to call the police and press charges. Another man comes into the room though. He is Yukio Murata (Denden). He calms the man down and then invites the family to his fish shop. He also specializes in exotics one, but he’s more successful. The family is grateful and takes him up on his offer. As the synopsis states, this changes their lives completely.

Murata offers Mitsuko a job and have her stay at the shop like the rest of the girls he has working for him. Shamoto doesn’t say a whole lot about it, but Mitsuko wants to do it. Taeko also thinks it’s a good idea. Murata is married to Aiko (Asuka Kurosawa) who helps him run his business. The group goes back to Shamoto’s shop, with Aiko riding with Shamoto and his wife. Murata has Mitsuko ride with him.

It becomes a whirlwind from here. Mitusko goes to work for Murata. He takes advantage of Taeko when he has Shamoto leave her there. He also pressures Shamoto to come back for a business venture. This leads to wild events involving the yazuka, murder, getting rid of the bodies and the police. Shamoto is a normal guy who is timid, but everything happening here will change not only his life, but that of his families’ as well.

To bring back up what I stated earlier, I didn’t know much about this coming in other than it stated to be based on a true story. I did see that it is loosely based on couple that did murder people, but this story of the film is mostly fictional. Where I want to start would be the character of Shamoto. He starts off as a timid man who is living a normal life. His wife passed away and his daughter is acting out due to him immediately marrying a younger Taeko. Meeting Murata gives her aspirations for more. He is content, but also blinded. Murata bullies him along with Aiko and everyone else in his life. Everyone has a breaking point. It is interesting is that I feel good for him for fighting back, but it also ruins him.

Where I think I’ll shift next is Murata. He has a bigger shop than Shamoto. He also flaunts his wealth. What is interesting here though is the fact that Murata is doing illegal things. We don’t realize it at first, but Shamoto joins a meeting with Yoshida (Tarô Suwa). Shamoto is there to help convince him that this fish they want him to help Murata buy is worth millions of yen. Yoshida doesn’t necessarily believe it. Murata is willing to kill for his lifestyle, but he’s doing it too much. He is in over his head. There is also an interesting scene with Shamoto that makes me think the two of them were similar until Murata got greedy for more.

There isn’t a lot to the story, but there are a lot of things we need for the movie. I will be honest, I do think it runs too long as this goes over two and half hours. While I’m watching it though, I try to figure out what could be cut and it is difficult. Some of what we see I do think could be trimmed down. Despite feeling how long this movie goes, it doesn’t feel like it necessarily. From the moment that Shamoto meets Murata, I can feel the tension rising and my anxiety going up. I do have to give credit there.

From here I want to take this over to the acting. Fukikoshi is great. He feels like this character who is just a middle aged, suburban father who is trying to keep his family together and run his business. It is meeting a loose cannon like Murata that changes everything. Speaking of Murata, I love Denden’s performance as well. The energy that he brings, I believe that he could convince these people to do what they do. Kurosawa is good as Aiko as well. What I like about her is that she is attractive and the more we get to know her, the crazier we see she is. Kagurazaka is attractive as Taeko. I think she fits this role well along with Kajiwara. I also think that Tetsu Watanabe is good as Takayasu TsuTsui. Everyone here along with Suwa and the rest of the cast also round this out for what was needed.

Next I’ll go to the effects. The first time I saw this movie, I wasn’t expecting it to go where it did. What they show in this movie is great. I think the blood and gore looks amazing to the point where it almost feels real. It is surreal the first time and then becomes normalized, which fits the tone of the movie. I also think that the cinematography is very well done on top of that.

Then finally I will go to the soundtrack. The musical selections fit for what the movie needs. This also helps with the atmosphere along with helping to raise the tension. Personally I think this movie might not be as effective if not for that. There are these drums that are used that I could feel raising my heart rate. Aside from that, the rest also fit for what the movie needed.

So then in conclusion here, I thought this was a good movie the first time that I saw and like it even more after this second viewing. We have a premise that we’ve seen before, but I think the performances bring these core group of characters to life. I wasn’t expecting the effects to go as brutal as they did and it was appreciated. This move is shot well. It has an atmosphere that builds tension to the ending. Overall for me, this is a great movie. I will warn you that this is from Japan, so I did watch it with subtitles on. If that’s an issue, avoid this. If not, I think this is a movie worth seeing.


My Rating: 9 out of 10