REVIEW: Fish Story is a charming foreign film

There are many ways to choose which film to watch but sometimes just a plot synopsis is

Fish Story. Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura. Starring Ito Atsushi, Kora Kengo, Hamada Gaku, Tabe Mikako, Moriyama Mirai. Japanese with subtitles. 112 mins. Four stars

There are many ways to choose which film to watch but sometimes just a plot synopsis is all you need. Fish Story is all about an early Japanese punk band Gekirin who in 1975 ("a year before the Sex Pistols") recorded a song called Fish Story. Nobody bought it, nobody else liked it and the band broke up but 37 years later, with the Earth facing total destruction from a collision course comet the song will be instrumental in saving the Earth.

If that excites your interest, sounds like your kind of thing and you have a fondness for fragmented narratives and epic whimsy than Nakamura's film will probably give you exactly what you need. (Oh, and if the opening paragraph sounds like too much information, that's all covered in the first ten minutes of the film.)

It's like a season of Heroes conceived by someone in the thrall of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, an unofficial Armageddon sequel with a tinges of It's A Wonderful Life. Based on a book by Kotaro Isaka, the story drops in at various times between 1975 and 2012 (and once before) setting up any number of loose ends taking in doomsday cults, paranormal; obsessions, songs with unexplained pauses in them and the importance of the number five.


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The pacing is occasionally a bit sluggish but it couples its oddness with a humour and compassion that is charming and the structure pulls together. When it wraps everything up in a lovely little musical montage I'm betting it will leave you with a self-satisfied little smile as you congratulate yourself on having the good taste and daring to head out to an obscure little foreign film that is only showing in one screen in London.

It's a good song too.

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