Josée, the tiger and the fish (2003) (ジョゼと虎と魚たち)
dir. Isshin Inudo
- F.サガン 「一年ののちとすばらしい雲」
“One day you will not love him anymore.” Bernard said softly.
“And one day, doubtless, I will not love you anymore, either. And we will be alone once more, and in that be alike. And another year will have gone by…”
- Francoise Sagan, “In a month, in a year” (Dans un mois, dans un an) and “Wonderful Clouds” (Le merveilleux nuages)
I wonder why we all hold onto things we don’t need any longer? The lines above are recited by the spirited Josee in the midst of the film and are perhaps allegorical of the tale that ultimately unfolds. A not-so-simple story of boy meets girl, with all the soaring highs and sweeping lows that happen along the way. The inevitable foibles and failings of all human relationship, tempered by the moments of quiet majesty in between – perhaps simply magnified by the unique circumstances inherent to their situation.
This film also invites a deeper social commentary that is well worth addressing. The fact that she is disabled in a country where disabilities are still thought of as better left unspoken, unseen and unheard; where families seek to hide hard truths, in fear of social stigmatisation. This production addresses these concerns in an even-handed and understanding manner that presents the situation in a balanced light that allows viewers to reach their own conclusions.
It is perhaps a reminder to all of us that life, in all it’s idiosynchratic splendour, is far more complicated than it seems. And our obliviousness to some of the real problems that go on, just below the surface, is all that gets us through sometimes.
While we may remain steadfast in the belief that the grass is always greener on the other side, when we finally arrive, we realise that it is all just brown, and the only grass that matters at the end of the day is that which we plant ourselves. You make your choices and you live with them. And in the end, you are those choices.
This is a sober reflection on the fleetingness of human connection amidst societal pressures and indvidual imperfections. As two unlikely strangers embark on a relationship that both eventually accept is destined not to last. Sometimes when things fall apart, they fall apart completely. It is nobody’s fault per se. Or perhaps it is everybody’s. But then again, life is all about good-byes…
Isshin Inudô has crafted a truly memorable film about two flawed but very real individuals, trying to make the most of the lot that has been given to them.Tsumabuki Satoshi as Tsuneo convincingly portrays a free spirited and originally directionless college student, who inadvertently stumbles into Josée and the unique circumstances of her life. Initially viewing it as nothing more than an amusing diversion, he ultimately finds something of lasting value in the relationship that forms the crux of the story and may just in fact change his life.
But it truly is Ikewaki Chizuru as Josée (Kumiko) – in a career making performance – that defines the film. Running the full gamut of emotions from unbridalled joy to unfettered anguish. She impecably balances both the inner strength and fragile vulnerability of her character in equally convincing measure, with a sureity and gravitas that shines through. It is nothing short of a tour-de-force of acting prowess.
I first watched this story unfold, many years ago, at a Japanese film festival in Sydney. The audience remained transfixed by these characters and their lives for the entire duration – rising to rousing applause at the very end. Along the way we encountered Josée and the tiger. And I dare all of you not to smile or to laugh, or perhaps even cry – with joy – just as we did – when the fish eventually makes its appearance. Whatever your circumstances, be sure to watch this film. Before another year passes you by…
The Josée, the tiger and the fish Trailer: