We all know that music can change the world, but can it save it? In Fish Story, a punk song might do just that. In fact, it might just save us all from a comet on a collision course with the Earth.
If that just made you do a double take…. good.
Oh, how I wish I could simply say that you should attempt to see Fish Story any way you can, if I could just say that it’s an incredible film that deserves to be seen by everyone and and have you all go out and experience it without knowing anything at all about it. Anyone who’s seen Moon knows that there is just no way to tell people about the film without ruining it. It’s one of those films that’s better just to dive in completely oblivious of what to expect, to just enjoy the twists and turns the story takes. The same goes for Fish Story- doubly so, in fact.
I’m not joking, people. If you have the willpower, don’t go any further. Just wait for it to get released in your region and see it.
The story revolves around a Japanese punk band named Gekirin who recorded a single called Fish Story in 1975, a year before the Sex Pistols released their debut and kicked off the start of punk. Fish Story’s an innovative song that’s destined to be a classic, even if they know it won’t sell any copies. Gekirin is playing fast, angry music at a time when people want simpler, lighter things. They’re recording what’s to be their first and only album and are trying to get their song done right and get their voices and feelings on the world across.
But it’s not all set in 1975. The film likes to frequently jump around to different ages and focus on different characters- the film actually begins in 2012 as a comet streaks throught the sky, hours away from impact and complete armageddon. The only people not taking shelter are obliviously listening away to music in a store when an old man comes in to let them know that they’re all doomed. There’s nothing they can do about it, so they listen to music and talk about their lives.
We’re also shown seemingly unrelated characters and events in 1982 and 2009. The genius of the film is that you have absolutely no idea what’s going on or how each piece fits in with the full story, but each part is totally captivating. Every new section will fit a few more pieces of the puzzle together and when it all finally merges at the end you’ll feel like sitting back and lighting up a cigarette, because this is pure cinematic sex, with one of the most satisfying endings of recent memory.
This movie demonstrates the reasons we all love Asian film in the first place. It’s a glorious mix of genres, from music documentary to horror to martial arts action, all interspersed with an incredible sense of humor and sentimentality. A film that focused on only one aspect would have been incredible (I could have watched a whole film about Gekirin trying to get their song produced), but throw them all together and you’ve got something special. Something that will grab hold of you from the first frame and simply not let go, and keep you laughing throughout.
Meticulously crafted, incredibly engaging- if this doesn’t become a genuine cult classic in the years to come I’ll have lost all faith in film fans.
Fish Story is playing at the New York Asian Film Festival on Saturday, June 27th at the IFC Center and Thursday, July 2nd at the Japan Society. If for some reason you can only see one film at the fest (which is nonsense, because there’s at least a dozen worthy of a viewing), see this one. Check the site for tickets!