Plot: An updated version of "Cinderella", "Year of the Fish" follows Ye Xian (An Nguyen), a nice, mousy, unassuming, yet highly beautiful girl who is sent to New York to make money for her ailing father. She's taken in by massage parlor madam Mrs. Su (Tsai Chin). When she refuses to do the more salacious tasks at the parlor, she is relegated to a janitorial position and treated harshly by Mrs. Su, whom all of the massage girls call "Ma", and the head girl Hong Ji (Hettienne Park). Through the help of a goldfish, a mystical woman named Auntie Yaga and an old man (both played by Randall Duk Kim), Ye Xian finds love with musician Johnny (Ken Leung) and escapes the parlor.
My opinion: "Year of the Fish" showed at Sundance, and I can see why it was selected. This film is a greatly told story, and, to me, has the most heart out of all of the "Cinderella" adaptations I've seen. This is possibly due to the realistic setting and problems Ye Xian has, being a newcomer to America and forced to do menial and demeaning labor.
However, quite a bit of the heart comes from interweaving the magical seamlessly with the realistic. At first I wasn't so sold on the rotoscoping the movie's filmed in, but as the movie wore on, I understood why the movie was filmed this way. By using rotoscope, the mystical elements are able to blend effortlessly into the story, making the whole movie cohesive in its storytelling. Also, the rotoscope makes magical characters like the fish, Auntie Yaga and the old man, appear even more magical and intense.
Ye Xian's plight is very well told and acted in this story, her silence reflecting her inner pain and turmoil at her current situation. At many moments, especially when the music (composed by Paul Cantelon) swells, the film becomes extremely poignant.
Overall, this is great film. Also, if you're a fan of "The Joy Luck Club", you might want to check this film out, as this film was helped by the producer of that film.