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[Fantasia ’21] ‘Love, Life, and Goldfish’ review: Musical rom-com is a refreshing watch

Light-hearted fun.

Love, Life, and Goldfish is one of the most memorable films at the Fantasia Film Festival. At a genre fest filmed with gory horror and heavy science fiction, a musical romantic comedy almost seems out of place. Makoto Kashiba works at a large bank. After a mistake gets him demoted to “the sticks”, he longs to return back to Tokyo. When he falls for Yoshino Ikoma, he learns more about himself.

There is no deep subtext needed to this type of film. All the familiar beats are there. Makoto dismisses the town he has been transferred to despite the fact everyone seems to enjoy each other’s company outside of work. There is the coworker that becomes attracted to his cold demeanor and the odd couple mixing of the Big City and the Small Town. Things almost seem to derivative.

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Everything works thanks to the sincerity of Love, Life, and Goldfish. It may be a light story about finding someone, but the plot also touches on becoming vulnerable enough to let emotions in. This is not something limited to rom-coms; this is an issue that people encounter in real life. It is handled in a sometimes too sweet way that requires lots of suspension of disbelief, but it is a consistently fun watch.

[Fantasia '21] 'Love, Life, and Goldfish' review: Musical rom-com is a refreshing watch

Visually, everything looks great. There is great use of color and lighting. The main draw for many will be the music, however. Fans of J-Pop will probably have a greater appreciation for Love, Life, and Goldfish, but it will appeal to all audiences. There is a great mix of genres that prevent things from getting stale. Together with the fantastic look, the film will be a sensory treat.

Love, Live, and Goldfish is a romantic comedy that is comfortable in its own skin. The story unapologetically caters to fans of the genre. By jumping headlong into some of the more ridiculous aspects, it becomes a stronger story. The movie never fails to meet audience expectations. It covers familiar territory while still managing to be a refreshing watch.

The Fantasia Film Festival takes place in person and online from August 5 – August 25

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