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Year of the Fish

Magical, yet sordid and melancholy
By PETER KEOUGH  |  September 17, 2008
2.5 2.5 Stars
Year-of-the-Fish-inside.jpg

Setting Cinderella in a massage parlor in New York’s Chinatown certainly puts an edge on the old bedtime story, but David Kaplan’s inspired decision to render the tale in rotoscope animation restores much of the magic without sacrificing the sordidness and the melancholy. Seventeen-year-old Ye Xian (An Nguyen) has been smuggled into New York to earn money for her ailing father back in China, but she soon learns that the “beauty salon” run by Ma Su (Tsai Chin) offers more than pedicures. Balking at her first hand job, she’s demoted to clean-up duty, much to the delight of most of Ma Su’s tarted-up clientele. She spots her Prince Charming, Johnny (Ken Leung), playing an accordion in the park, and her Fairy Godmother, Aunt Yaga (Randall Duk Kim), gives her a magical fish, but Auntie also runs an infernal sweatshop. Apart from caricatures like Ma Su, good and evil blur together like the painted-over imagery. But so, alas, do nonsense and poignancy, clarified from time to time by a gemlike detail. 96 minutes |Harvard Square
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  Topics: Reviews , David Kaplan
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