A modern version of the fairy tale "The Fisherman and his Wife" from the Brothers Grimm. Well, is it? You may ask that yourself. The fairy tale is about greed and how a fisherman's wife ruins everything by always wanting too much. The movie is more about love and how love can be destroyed by wanting too much, instead of enjoying what you have.
The movie also reminded me of Doris Dörrie's acclaimed movie "Männer..." ("Men"), the story of a woman between her smart and wealthy husband and a charming poor artist. In "Der Fischer und seine Frau" there's a young woman Ida between her charming poor husband Otto and his smart and wealthy friend Leo (there's also Yoko, Leo's wife, but she's of no importance for the plot). In "Männer..." both men were likable and thus there was a real conflict (Doris Dörrie once said in an interview that both men of "Männer" combined in one man would be her Marylin Monroe).
Not so in this movie. While poor Otto is likable beyond all limits (he even agrees to inspect the anus of his landlords's dog in order to fulfill his wife's wishes), his smart friend Leo is just wealthy and boring. And Ida is sometimes like Otto, sometimes like Leo. She doesn't know yet what's good for her, while the audience hopes in vain for a more surprising outcome. Only very late in the movie, for about 2 minutes, there's a real conflict when Otto meets his lost father. He calls himself an adventurer but is only a shabby car dealer. The story might have worked better if relaxed Otto turned into an over-ambitious guy with excessive wishes - driven by the fear to become like his father. Instead we saw ambitious Ida turn into an over-ambitious business-woman, compromising her love for Otto and risking Otto's love. And we just don't know why. Because of Ida's ambitious parents (they have about one minute movie time)? Because Otto didn't say "I love you" often enough? Because Ida is greedy? Because Ida is a woman? Hm.
While the story itself has some bigger problems, the movie shines in many other details. The Koi theme gives space for many funny and pretty ideas, adding a bit more depth to the lame plot (Koi means both "fish" and "love" in Japanese). The tone is funny, colorful and upbeat, camera work is interesting, music is fancy and enjoyable. The actors do a good job. (What makes me think again is that the extras section of the DVD has interviews with Alexandra Maria Lara (Ida) and Christian Ulmen (Otto) where both show better chemistry and humor than in the movie itself).
I enjoyed to watch this movie because of many felicitous details, but as it failed to get into my heart, I doubt I will watch it again.
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