Little Fish — had potential

Topic: Arts and Culture 14 years, 10 months ago

'Little Fish' poster

Sorry for not having updated for a while, I’ve been a bit busy over the weekend an the following few days.

On Sunday Lucy and I went and watched the new Australian film Little Fish starring Cate Blanchett, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving, Dustin Nguyen and Noni Hazelhurst — really, an all-star Australian cast. It’s great to see some of our exports still willing to do local films. (Sam Neill is in just about every one of them, of course! ;) )

Excerpt from the official synopsis:

How do you learn to love again when the pain of the past won’t let you go? When you’re 32 with a troubled history and a doubtful future, it’s a question that isn’t so easy to answer. And for Tracy Heart (Cate Blanchett), it’s a question she can no longer ignore. A story about families. About lies. And about learning to love again.

The film is beautifully shot, poetic yet edgy, and is accompanied by a wonderfully haunting score.

The acting is unbelievably real and Cate Blanchett gives an outstanding performance as the conflicted Tracey (even if despite her best efforts Cate still looks too good). Noni Hazelhurst also nails her part (this actually surprised me a little, but I have admittedly seen very little of her work — I’ve been told I shouldn’t have expected anything less!) and Sam Neill is competent.

However, Hugo Weaving is is astonishing and barely recognisable. Playing Lionel Dawson, a gay former AFL footy star who is now a heroin addict, he is utterly convincing as a tormented addict who just doesn’t have the willpower to kick his habit and move on with his life.

Set in Cabramatta, Sydney, the film really hits close to home. Maybe even too close. The tight, gritty shots and our familiarity with the typically Australian characters already makes the film something we can relate too closely to, but being able to recognising just about all the locations in the film almost made it unbearable to watch — but also made it riveting at the same time.

All that I’ve said so far applies to the first two acts of the film — up to this point it is just brilliantly executed. But after, it starts to unravel pretty quickly. The the plot becomes increasingly far-fetched, and it takes us further and further away from the grim reality we’ve just been immersed in for an hour and a half, until the unimaginative cop-out climax hits. Without spoiling the ending, I can only say that the characters all get away with not having to face or resolve their conflicts.

I left Little Fish feeling terribly disappointed, as did Lucy. It had so much potential to be the quintessential Australian film we’ve been waiting years for, yet it just couldn’t follow through.

I can only give it 3.5 out of 5, but would nonetheless recommend that no Australian, and certainly no Sydney-sider, miss this film. Little Fish may be flawed, but it is still amazing.

(I expect a lot of people will disagree with me here… and I’d really like to know why. I’d love to love Little Fish — let me know how?)

Little Fish
114 minutes, English
Australian release 08 Sep 2005, in selected cinemas

The End of an Era Café Fellini on Victoria

4 Comments Add your own

  • . Nicholas Gruen  |  14 years, 10 months ago

    I think it is a very good film. You praise it for being “unbelievably real” but you think the ending is a copy out because they don’t resolve their conflicts. Indeed not – like you said “unbelievably real”. Can’t see the problem.

    And by the way (this is not a snide comment) but he’s a rugby star – not AFL what with this being Cabramatta and all.

  • . Stephen Mok  |  14 years, 10 months ago

    Thanks for your comment, Nicholas.

    I praised the acting for being believable, but I felt the the screenplay was the opposite (the ending at least). Is that really contradictory? If you’re arguing that it is a perfectly real scenario that people don’t resolve their conflicts, maybe… perhaps my complaint then is that we are left with no plausible idea of how the characters will face the consequences for the actions (or inaction) they have chosen? And that seems un-real? (spoiler alert) You can’t stay at beach forever, after all! (end spoiler)

    As for why I said “AFL star”… I’ll admit I have no idea where I got that idea from! As you said, it makes no sense — the story is set in Cabramatta after all. I’ll correct my post.

  • . johnny  |  14 years, 10 months ago

    havent seen it yet… because my mum wants to. and she insists that i take her… lol

    did u see me in the one of the scenes? i was in the background doing the robot.

  • . Stephen Mok  |  14 years, 10 months ago

    Damn… I didn’t! I was thinking of watching it again though. Gimme some more info about when/where to spot you and I’ll give it ago!

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