Monday, July 31, 2006

Film Review: Little Fish

During the past two decades Australian cinema has successfully managed to prove it’s about much more than just serialised novelties like Crocodile Dundee or Mad Max. We’ve had memorable films like Strictly Ballroom which helped launch the directorial career of Baz Luhrman, Romper Stomper starring a young Russell Crowe, Muriel’s Wedding in which the acting talents of Toni Collette were exposed and more recently The Proposition where Nick Cave put his screenwriting abilities to the test.

It is a credit to Antipodean actors like Cate Blanchett and Sam Neil, who having made it big in Hollywood are still willing to return to their home patch to make unglamorous films about life on the edge and the frailty of human existence. With Little Fish I was expecting a gritty and entertaining urban drama in the mould of Romper Stomper, but instead got a rambling and rather depressing film with a confusing plot and an over-reliance on symbolic imagery.

Blanchett plays Tracey Heart, a thirty-something ex-junkie who tries to rebuild her life by attempting to set up her own business, a DVD rental shop in a predominantly Asian quarter of Sydney. However, a poor credit record and baggage from the past which returns to haunt her prove that the road to redemption is a rocky one. In theory, a concept with a great deal of potential – which it fails to live up to. Despite impressive performances from both Blanchett and the supporting cast, the film gets off to a very slow start and for much of the first half it is difficult to work out what exactly is happening or what direction it is taking. Sam Neil adapts well to the role of a shady godfather type character complete with a Terry Wogan style coiffure and tan, but the character is never really developed throughout the film. Recurring imagery of Blanchett submerged in a swimming pool, possibly symbolic of the struggle in trying to keep her head above water is somewhat overdone to the point of being cringeworthy at times.

So as far as Little Fish is concerned I would throw the minnows back into the water and try for a better quality catch. Smoked salmon or grilled swordfish it certainly ain’t.


Lorainne said...

I cannot agree with you more Ciaran - the words boring, slow, dull, uninspiring and mediocre come to mind in connection with this film. The da Vinci Code was marginally worse - but only because it went on longer which intensified the torture of the snail-like flimsy uninteresting plot.

northern sole said...

The Da Vinci Code was just an attempt to cash in a bestselling blockbuster, so no matter how crap it was, it was guaranteed to be a box office success.
Little Fish on the other hand had the potential to be a decent film, but was let down by a confusing plot, too complex a set of events and a slow-moving pace which didn't justify its excessive length.

Lorainne said...

Yes - Little Fish could have been a great film.....if the plot, pace, characters and script were different. Indeed it would have been wonderful.