Little Fish

Little Fish


Reviewed by: Symon Parsons

Before I start, a word on animal husbandry. Apparently, pedigree can sometimes be misleading. You can breed an Arabian mare with a Derby winner and still end up with a broken down nag that runs like a pig on stilts. So they tell me.

The reason I bring this up is that the pedigree for Little Fish is extremely impressive. Cate Blanchett stars alongside Hugo Weaving and Martin Henderson with menacing support from Sam Neill as a retiring drug baron. In Kiwi/Aussie cultural terms, this is almost as good news as Kylie returning to Neighbours or Rolf Harris releasing a new Stylophone album, so my hopes were very high.

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Tracey (Blanchett) works in an internet cafe in Sydney's Little Saigon district. She has ambitious plans to expand it in partnership with the store's owner. However, despite her solid business plans, no bank will loan her money. The reason becomes apparent when we meet her ex, Jonny (Dustin Ngyen) her brother Ray (Henderson) and her close friend Lionel (Weaving). All shared a close friendship shattered by drug dependency. Though the four are now in various stages of recovery, it's obvious that their junkie past can never be left behind.

With her plans - and her friends - falling apart, Tracey finds herself being pulled back to the old life. When one final deal offers to solve their problems, the four reunite in order to escape their past by submerging themselves in it one last time.

The performances in Little Fish are as outstanding as you'd expect with a cast like this. Blanchett is a perfect mixture of strength and frailty with her purposeful eyes and pale, delicate features, while Hugo Weaving's performance is so astonishingly different from anything he's done before that he's almost unrecogniseable. Surprisingly though, the film is stolen by Noni Hazlehurst as Tracey's mum - still in love with her kids despite the pain she knows this will cause.

Having said that, the downbeat tone and slow, dreamlike direction of the film lend an air of inevitability to the proceedings. We know where this story is going almost from the first frame, and this fatally pulls the rug out from under the film. It's hard to care about characters who may as well be wearing red Star Trek jerseys. So while there's a great deal to admire about the acting ability on show, it's hard to watch characters swimming in circles for two hours.

Little Fish is not a bad film. It's made with care, the Little Saigon setting is interesting and you're not going to see better acting this side of a twelve hour Meryl Streepathon, but I think a more complex story and a touch more unpredictability would have served all concerned a little better.

Reviewed on: 21 Jul 2006
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Little Fish packshot
A woman struggles to escape her criminal past.
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Richard Mellor ***

Director: Rowan Woods

Writer: Jacqueline Perske

Starring: Cate Blancett, Hugo Weaving, Sam Neill, Martin Henderson, Noni Hazlehurst, Dustin Nguyen, Joel Tobeck

Year: 2005

Runtime: 114 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia


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