A Fish out of Water (2017)

Impression: In the festival program this movie was compared to something Edward Yang would have done. It’s not just because it is also from Taiwan, but because it’s very intimately focused on family dynamics and slow moving, but beautifully shot. I loved Yi Yi by Yang, so I figured I should give this one a try.  The center of  the story is a family with a very young boy, and an aging, sick father they take care of.  The stresses of dealing with family and work, eventually lead to fights which lead the man and woman to temporarily separating with the woman taking care of the boy and the man taking care of his father. The additional stress is that the boy constantly keeps thinking about and mentioning and drawing his “other family.” We eventually learn the other family was a family he remembers from a previous life. He has very clear memories of this other family, and his parents want to be helpful, but it is stressful to deal with his teachers, other family, who they are afraid are judging them. The boy also, keeps wanting to go visit his “other family” and can’t be left alone, because he wanders off.  Although this strange detail in the plot is central to the film, the film is actually still about family dynamics, and how families deal with problems that life throws at them.  At the end they finally take him to visit the small town by the sea where he claims his “other family” lives.  While the movie is mostly hardcore realism, I particularly liked the last scene, which during the Q & A, the director admitted was his favorite also. It depicts the central couple struggles up a sand dune in wind in their wedding attire, being followed by photographers. Certainly a metaphor of sorts for family life.
Facts:  Taiwanese movie about a young boy who constantly thinks and remembers his “other family.”
Extra: I saw this film at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

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