The Year Of The Fish

The Year Of The Fish

***1/2

Reviewed by: Tony Sullivan

Year Of The Fish concerns a young Asian girl, Ye Xian (An Nguyen), who gets her first taste of the American dream by being forced into a hard-knock life at a dubious massage parlor in New York's Chinatown. This gritty Cinderella story has no wicked step-sisters, but instead a heartless madam (Tsai Chin) and some cold fellow employees who have no sympathy for their naïve new charge.

A freak encounter with a mysterious fortune teller (Randall Duk Kim) changes the heroine's life, charging Ye Xian to look after a Koi carp - a fish that later begins to exhibit some strange changes.

Copy picture

A good natured but down-on-his-luck, musician, Johnny (Ken Leung), makes up the other half of the traditional story.

Based on an older Chinese version of Cinderella rather than the more familiar Charles Perrault one, Year Of The Fish is a much darker and more adult fairytale than the Disney effort. The fantasy elements are considerably more intense, the fairy-godmother in this version is more of a demon Indian shaman than anything you might associate with sweetness and light.

Director David Kaplan uses a rotoscoping technique similar to that championed by Richard Linklater in Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. Year Of The Fish improves on his technique, with a softer animation that looks more like a series of pastel and charcoal drawings animated together - particularly effective in the cityscapes.

Although there are no real surprises plot-wise, the film feels refreshingly different, aided by winning performances from An Nguyen as the newcomer, Ye Xian, and veteran actress, Tsai Chin, as the madam, Mrs Su, forever mother hen to her malcontent merchandise.

Reviewed on: 14 Feb 2007
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Rotoscope-animated retelling of Cinderella, transporting the action to a New York massage parlour.

Festivals:

Sundance 2007

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