Josee, The Tiger and The Fish
Review by Alyce Wilson
Josee, The Tiger and the Fish is a Japanese drama about a college age guy, Tsuneo, who befriends a young handicapped woman, Josee. Of course, this being a Japanese movie, naturally the romance must be complicated. Don't look for any easy Hollywood endings.
The story is told as a flashback, after we see some photos taken on the beach when Tsuneo and Josee took a special trip. Because he's speaking about her in the past tense, we suspect they are no longer together, but we don't know what happened.
Tsuneo meets Josee when he bumps into her, literally, as her grandmother wheels her around the town in a baby carriage, covered in a blanket. He agrees to dinner at their house and discovers Josee lives a sheltered life, living through the books she rescues from the garbage. She has named herself after one of those character, a girl in a French book.
As the friendship grows, they learn from each other and both begin taking challenges they otherwise would not take. Inevitably, they fall in love, but Josee must compete with the love of a coed who, although Tsuneo finds her somewhat boring, doesn't have the same physical challenges that complicate life with Josee.
Symbolically, the tiger probably represents Tsuneo, because Josee is clearly the fish: her legs don't work, and she's developed the habit of diving from furniture onto the floor. Significantly, the only time we see a tiger in the film, he is caged and pacing.
Overall, Josee, The Tiger, and The Fish is a moving film that
avoids easy sentiment and opts, instead, for more genuine moments. At
times funny and at times touching, but without ever being sappy, this
drama, indeed, feels like memory, like reliving cherished moments with
the pang of knowing they will never come again.