Korean Park taught himself to film in 3D for his debut. Viewers are cleverly fed a red herring in the shape of a philosophy professor who hears that his vanished wife is on an island training to be a shaman. The professor drops everything and goes in search of her.
Park Hong-Min’s feature debut A Fish is the first 3-D film in the Rotterdam Tiger Awards Competition, and that 3-D form does justice to the various dimensions overlapping in this metaphysical mystery in a fascinating way.
Little by little, the filmmaker reveals where this unfortunate road movie is taking its characters. At first not much seems to happen. In a roadside restaurant, the troubled protagonist, Professor Lee, picks up the detective who says he has found Lee’s missing wife on an island off the coast. The men head for the sea, but instead of taking the ferry that evening, they must look for alternative transport the next day. That night, the professor has a curious dream.
Park, who is still studying directing in Seoul, maintains a realistic style that hides the true nature of events for a long time. But what at first seems like a series of absurd situations slowly changes into a moving and decisive coming-of-age story. A story that leans on the symbolic meaning of water and fish, even though Park clearly does not want to explain or reveal too much. When one of the characters suggests to another that their conversation is starting to sound philosophical, they immediately stop, saying they don’t have anything sensible to say. This characterises the playful and provocative way in which A Fish tries to fathom the very last moment we will eventually all experience. –IFFR