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Opens Aug. 29
The concept of a happy ending has more than one meaning in this modern-day version of the “Cinderella” tale set in a NYC Chinatown massage parlor. Chiefly notable for its use of rotoscoped animated visuals drawn over its real-life settings and performers, “Year of the Fish” fails to sustain its thin premise over its feature-length running time.
Narrated by a magical, ever-growing goldfish, the tale centers on Ye Xian (An Nguyen), a young Chinese woman newly arrived in America. Having to pay back her travel expenses, she’s forced to work in a massage parlor run by the evil Ms. Su (Tsai Chin), who becomes quite upset when Ye Xian is unwilling to provide the final service that the customers expect. Forced into a life of endless drudgery and hard work, Ye Xian finds some emotional relief via a burgeoning romance with a handsome accordionist (Ken Leung) with whom she has a series of fleeting encounters. One guess as to whether she winds up with this Chinese-American Prince Charming by the end.
It’s hard to tell what audience David Kaplan was trying to attract with this effort. Both thematically and visually, the film lacks the depth and style of such similarly animated films as Richard Linklater’s “A Waking Life” and “A Scanner Darkly.” Too risque for kids and too simplistic for adults, the film is a mildly interesting curiosity that won’t stay in theaters for very long.
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