The Unfish | Chicago Reader

The Unfish

A modern fairy tale of fabulous complexity, this 1997 Austrian film involves a preserved whale whose interior is outfitted as a tourist attraction in a mountain village. When the citizens discover that the whale will grant one wish each to anyone making love inside him, a line forms and near-chaos ensues. A young woman turns her rival into a dog, then takes on man after man, hoping one of them will reverse her evil wish, but they all have other ideas. In part a comedy of manners, the film offers new twists on the familiar theme of magic wishes gone wrong—a farmer's new Rolls gets stuck in the mud, etc—but it's marred by a cloying cuteness. The music and narration constantly remind us how charming the story is, as if director Robert Dornhelm didn't think the film could sustain itself otherwise.

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