The Catch

Gyoei no mure

dir. Shinji Somai

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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Ken Ogata (Vengeance Is Mine, Mishima) stars in this powerful study of a macho tuna fisherman whose obliviousness to the suffering of others is challenged when tragedy strikes his own family.
Shinji Somai seems poised to become the next big discovery of Japanese cinema in light of the critically acclaimed full-scale retrospectives recently accorded him at Tokyo Filmex and the Edinburgh Film Festival. Structured in three parts and elegantly photographed, The Catch is one of Somai's most important films, a powerful study of laconic, macho tuna fisherman Fusajiro (played by the superb Ken Ogata, star of Shohei Imamura's Vengeance Is Mine and Paul Schrader's Mishima), who lives with his daughter in north-eastern Uma. The tough seaman shows little concern for anyone's happiness; he alienates his dutiful daughter by forbidding her marriage to a city boy, and toys with the affections of his tippling ex-wife. Oblivious to the elements and to fellow feeling — in one shocking sequence, he leaves an injured man to suffer on deck so he can concentrate on reeling in a giant tuna — the insular Fusajiro is finally forced into a grudging act of compassion when his son-in-law's boat goes missing. "[A] gripping yarn . . . the drama of The Catch quietly builds until the deafening radio silence of the last sequence" (Midnight Eye).