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Little Fish (2005)

  Directed by: Rowan Woods
Written by: Jacqueline Perske
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Noni Hazlehurst, Martin Henderson, Dustin Nguyen, Hugo Weaving
Links: Little Fish on the IMDb
Genre: Drama
Awards: AFI Awards: Best Film 2005 (nominee)

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Brilliantly Australian" - a review by pearly

When I first saw Rowan Woods' The Boys (1997) all those years ago, I had a bit of an epiphany. Though there were films out there that were like it, this is the one that clicked with me. The way that it was structured, and the voice that it had as an overall piece; I really related to it. Though I haven't seen the film in years, I still compare many other films to it, and I hope that, in my mind's eye, I haven't given the film more credit than it actually deserves.

One way of figuring that out, I realised, would be to watch his latest film, and use it as a gauge. Little Fish has the very attractive asset of Cate Blanchett in the lead role of Tracy. Tracy is living in the suburbs of Sydney, and working at a Vietnamese video store, which she has big plans for. But her past is catching up with her, and Tracy is feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. What's making her feel this way is the return of Jonny (Dustin Nguyen), a friend of her brother Ray (Martin Henderson). And in amongst it all, there's Lionel (Hugo Weaving) to be thought about.

Little Fish is one of those films where, for the first little while, you're watching it all without really understanding how everyone / everything fits together. You're a little bit lost in it all, and waiting to comprehend it all. For a moment about twenty minutes in, I thought it was all going to become a bit much, and that I'd lose the plot, but it was soon reeled in, and it had, overall, been a nice experience waiting for everything to come together.

What's fantastic about Little Fish is that, the same as with The Boys, it is so damned Australian. The main thing that lends itself to this is that the actors all speak in 100%, if not more, Aussie accents, to the point of nearly hamming it up. In this film, unlike The Boys, there's also a multicultural theme, with Tracy being fairly heavily involved in the Vietnamese culture of the city. This, if anything, only serves to make the film seem more Australian, as our multicultural side is shown, in perhaps a more realistic way than I have ever seen before in an Australian film.

In the end, what makes Little Fish work, is the direction, and the magnificent acting by all involved. Stand-outs are Blanchett, with one scene in particular (the one where she says that her "past is right here", placing her hands up to her face) being a killer of a scene, and Weaving, who is virtually unrecognisable at first, but who is jaw-droppingly great in his role as the troubled Lionel. And surprisingly, the other actor who deserves mad props in this case is Noni Hazlehurst, who plays Tracy's mother. Her portrayal is heart-breaking, and I thought it was a thing to behold.

If Little Fish is anything to go on, then I should immediately go back and re-watch The Boys, because I really doubt that my remembered impression of it is far off the mark. Woods is a talented film maker, and the only shame here is that, in the Australian film climate, he doesn't get the chance to make a movie more often.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 10 Oct 2005

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