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MOVIES (GFF 2022): Love, Life and Goldfish - Review

Yukinori Makabe’s musical delight is a romp but not without its own flaws that prevent it from being truly special. Love, Life and Goldfish introduces us to Makoto Kashiba, an elite bank clerk who works for a bank at its Tokyo HQ before being demoted after a minor mistake and sent to a small branch office in a country town. Ever the meticulous planner – he’s devastated by the move until he meets Yoshino Ikoma, who runs a goldfish scooping store – and falls in love at first sight.

The film itself feels very stereotypical in its approach to genre cliches – nothing you will see here that hasn’t been tried before and the quirkiness of Love, Life and Goldfish manages to find a way to keep it interesting. After all – it’s not every day you get movie musicals with competitive goldfish scooping – but whilst there’s plenty of fun here I think what makes Love, Life and Goldfish not work for me at least despite that is its treatment of the lead character – cliches I can stand when there’s a good movie around them or I care about the characters, but the film never truly can make its elitist banker falling in love with a small-town land, everything feels so cartoonishly exaggerated to the point where it hurts rather than helps – he feels like a Grade-A douche at times and the movie goes maybe too far in making him an arrogant man without really earning the ability to make you care about his transformation because it fails to give every other character a reason why they should care about him.

I did enjoy the mood and atmosphere at the summer festival, and the message – we don’t always need to compete to win, and do think it’s cheery and a true oddball surprise to come out of the Glasgow Film Festival so far – I can safely say this is the first film I’ve seen about competitive goldfish scooping and it’s certainly unique in that regard. It’s just a shame the rest of the film never quite lives up to its novelty premise.

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