Year of the Fish (2007)

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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 197 users   Metascore: 53/100
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A rotoscope-animated modern-day Cinderella story set in the underbelly of New York's Chinatown.



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Credited cast:
Mrs. Su
Auntie Yaga / Old Man / Foreman
An Nguyen ...
Ye Xian
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sally Leung Bayer ...
Henry Russell Bergstein ...
Hasidic Customer (as Henry Russell)
Buzz Bovshow ...
Businessman #2
Esther Cheng ...
Salon Worker #3
Shuk Yee
Kim Dong ...
Salon Worker #5
Salon Worker #7
Seamstress #2
Anna Kim ...
Seamstress #1
Janet Lau ...
Salon Worker #8


A rotoscope-animated modern-day Cinderella story set in the underbelly of New York's Chinatown.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A modern American fairytale with more than one happy ending



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Release Date:

14 October 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Ano do Peixe  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Version of First Love (1939) See more »


Frantic Dances of the Golden Serpent
performed by Xiao-Peng Jiang & The Chinese Orchestra of Shanghai Conservatory
courtesy of Jingo Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Sweet, but a bit boring
12 February 2008 | by (Sweden) – See all my reviews

This is a retelling of the Cinderella story, updated to modern day China Town in New York. The narrator is the eponymous fish. The film begins when Yi Xian arrives in New York, an illegal immigrant, perhaps, imported to work for her 'Aunty' Mrs Su and in the care of Auntie's minder and younger brother, Vinnie. Xian is 17. Her father back in China has fallen on hard times and has sent her/sold her to Aunty to earn money. Xian quickly discovers Auntie's business is a massage parlour. In the words of one of the girls who is told off to instruct her: "First you do the back, then they turn over and you do the dick". Xian refuses to "do the dick" and Aunty gives her instead all the cleaning to do. She has a debt to work off, after all.

Xian meets another Aunty, Aunty Yaga, a fearful witch, and for no clear reason is given a fish (the narrator) to take care of. There are trials and tribulations, but Cinderella meets her prince and everyone lives happily ever after (or at least with a blessing from the fish). It's a sweet story, sweetly retold.

It is also filmed in live action and then rotoscoped to look like an animated watercolour painting. At least, that seems to be the idea. There are one or two scenes in which the watercolour motif works well, (mostly street scenes in the rain, close-ups of the fish) and the dissolve from one scene to another is effective, but much of the time you do find yourself wondering why they bothered. Especially as the rotoscoping isn't really all that well done. Some of the scenes were visually so poor I did wonder whether the rotoscoping had been done against the clock in a sweatshop like the one Aunty Yaga runs, or whether the film had been batch converted with a cheap software programme.

The story is the story: we all know it, whether it's originally Chinese (as the director says), or Egyptian (as I remember being told) or Russian (Aunty Yaga = Baba Yaga), is really neither here nor there. The actors give it their best shot and it's a pity their faces are sometimes concealed by the rotoscoping.

It is difficult to know exactly who the intended audience is though. It's not an adult movie, despite the scenes in the massage parlour (there's nothing raw, nothing even that might be called soft porn). But it's not a children's film either, just because of the scenes and talk in and around the massage parlour. It's not a documentary or a slice of real life – it's a fairy tale.

Is it intended for a teenage audience? Johnny the 'prince' is a bit of a wimp. He's a musician, true, but he plays the accordion. How much teenage credibility does that give him? And Cinderella is dogged in her refusal to "do" dicks, and in keeping herself safe and pure, but she is also very dutiful. She doesn't try to escape; she accepts her duty to pay off the financial debt she has incurred to Aunty. She still honours her father, despite what he has done to her.

I saw this at the Gothenburg Film Festival one Sunday evening, and the cinema was very full. The audience showed no great enthusiasm. Ultimately the film is sweet, yes, but a bit boring.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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