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Review: Sushi Girl

Opening with a cover of “Diamonds are Forever,” Sushi Girl is a crime noir that is not strong on subtleties, but is strong on performances, especially Mark Hamill playing the off-kilter Crow.

The premise? On the night Fish (a grown up Neverending Story’s Noah Hathaway) gets released from prison, he is escorted to a dinner party with his partners from the failed heist. A party held at an abandoned Chinese restaurant with a naked sushi girl, one covered in sashimi, including the potentially deadly Fugu. It’s a reunion with a question. Now, six years, five months and seventeen days after the heist, where are the diamonds?

Duke, played by Tony Todd, is the leader of the group. He organized the gathering, including the early release of Fish. The remaining three guests include Max (Andy Mackenzie), clearly the muscle, Crow, who carries around his own dental instruments, and Francis (James Duval), a junkie who may be playing a completely different game. As one of the characters says, “So, it’s going to be one of those nights.”

After very few pleasantries, Fish is tied to a chair and given a series of opportunities to tell the others where he hid the diamonds, since they weren’t on him when he was caught. This interrogation quickly becomes a bet between Crow and Max, each round a competition to see who can make him talk. Unsurprisingly, each round increases in its violence. Intercut with the questioning are a series of flashbacks of the day of the crime, as well as a number of genre cameos. So that’s the plot.

The simple one room plot structure is strengthened by the interaction of the characters. Crow and Max taunt each other like brothers fighting for Daddy Duke’s approbation. Francis tries, and fails, to mitigate the situation and Duke is the ringmaster, oozing menace and coordinating the show. The three-way tension between Crow, Duke, and Max is captivating. Fish almost becomes incidental, merely an object for their interplay.

Like many of the films in this festival, one person wears many of the cast and crew hats. This is Kern Saxton’s directorial feature debut. He also co-wrote the script (with Millionaire Matchmaker’s Destin Pfaff), acted as a producer, and did the film editing. The writing is tight. The goal of the evening, as stated by Duke, is “to tie up loose ends.” On that point, this script delivers. Given the strength of this film, Kern’s a director I’ll be watching.

If you’re a fan of dark crime movies, and don’t mind flinching at some of the extreme, but in no way cartoonish, violence, I can recommend Sushi Girl.

 

SUSHI GIRL was featured at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival on October 24, 2012.


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