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Little Fish

Film Two Stars

Little Fish had me interested from the moment I saw the cast list, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Sam Neill and Martin Henderson all promised much. There was even that bloke from 21 Jump Street, Dustin Nguyen, trying to put on a convincing Australian accent.

The film is about a group of friends who have moved on from their past lives and are attempting to grow up. They once were extremely close and all embroiled in a life of drug taking and deals, but something happened that caused them all to take their separate paths and attempt separate lives.

Blanchett plays Tracy is now deputy manager of a local video store and very much clean. Her mother's ex-boyfriend, Lionel played by Weaving, who was once a famous Australian Football player has lost everything he has to his destructive drug habit, a habit that continues to eat away at him. Her brother Ray, played by Henderson, who seems to have lost a leg to this terrible event, is a very controlled user but continues to deal on a small time basis. Her ex-boyfriend Jonny, played by Nguyen, has just returned from abroad where he was sent by his controlling father as soon as the event occurred, and finally there's the aging drug boss who is about to retire and is having his drug empire "managed" on his behalf.

The story follows these key characters as they drift back together and touch each others lives again. Through these we begin to catch snatches of conversations that reveal a little of the events that tore them apart and have begun to pull them back together.

Something I really did like about the film was the way that we are never explicitly told anything about the past, rather we gleam these through their conversations. That gives it a very real and natural feeling, and coupled with the writing makes the film flow more organically than most.

I saw Little Fish some time ago, and like so many of the screeners I have that are awaiting review, it...well waited. Quick thanks to the Cameo cinema for getting me the screener to see.

The film does really grab onto this ideal and reveals the back-story and character history as the plot evolves and the characters interact, it gives a real sense of these people being real characters. It's the characters themselves that give us the story, not the film, and the more I've thought on this concept since I've seen it, the more powerful I've realised it is.

However, for this very reason the film can often be confusing. You can be playing catch-up during conversations, and struggling with what happened in the past to cause such reactions from characters.

Blanchett and Weaving are very strong. Their style is incredibly natural and suits this kind of film perfectly. Seeing them interact is like watching two real people having a real conversation.

Nguyen isn't so strong. He feels a little clunky and awkward in the role, and his accent pops in and out a little. His place felt a little weak and I would have liked to have seen more exploration of the relationship between his character Jonny and Tracy. This seems to be one of the strong centres of the film and yet it seems to be left hanging and just added to complete the group connections.

The story itself is nothing special. Just as Tracy is getting her life together her ex-boyfriend appears back home and gets involved in drug deals with her brother again. She obviously struggles against getting dragged back into her old life, but before long there's nothing she can do and they are headed for a local drug house to make a deal. At the same time The Jockey, the big drug dealer played by Neill, is retiring from the drug industry and he's just beginning to realise that his right hand man may have been running too many things without him, like the local drug house.

Although there does feel like there's plenty of places to go with the plot and some interesting turns to explore, they just never are and the organic story development seems to hinder the exploration of these threads.

Unfortunately I didn't really feel any sympathies for any of the characters. There was no connection or personal involvement made with any of the characters, and it seemed as though they were already lost by the time we get into the story.

Overall the film ends up being quite dull. Although performances are good, the story ambles along and doesn't explore itself enough. We follow these characters through their lives which we really aren't that interested in or sympathetic with. One to miss I would suggest.


Edinburgh's Cameo Cinema
UK IMDB Film details





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