Truth and Movies

Little Fish

Review by Keli Williams @kelionfilm

Directed by

Chad Hartigan

Starring

Jack O’Connell Olivia Cooke Soko

Anticipation.

Olivia Cooke and Jack O’Connell play a struggling married couple.

Enjoyment.

Surreal sci-fi drama speaks from the heart.

In Retrospect.

A memorable romance.

An amnesia-causing virus threatens a young couple, played by Olivia Cooke and Jack O’Connell.

Set against the backdrop of Seattle slowly losing its mind to NIA, or neuroinflammatory affliction, Little Fish is a film about the disintegration of a relationship, capturing the complicated emotional stages of a young couple’s plight to rescue their marriage before the disease erases all memory of their love and courtship.

Fading over weeks or months, in other circumstances vanishing in just an instant, the film opens during an all too familiar global pandemic that follows vet and aspiring writer Emma (Olivia Cooke) and photographer Jude (Jack O’Connell) as they grapple with the realities of the rapid virus, while trying to deal with the time they have left.

Tightening its grip on society by the second, the Alzheimer’s-like condition makes it increasingly difficult to know what is true and what is false, causing conflict and mishap in such trivial scenarios as a bus driver forgetting that he is driving, a fisherman swimming to shore after forgetting how to steer a ship, or a pilot forgetting how to fly. With the world on the brink of calamity, the misfortune slowly wedges itself between the newlyweds, who quickly see their lives shattered once Jude discovers he has contracted the dreaded virus.

As Jude slowly succumbs to the affliction, he and Emma work closely to ensure that something of their relationship will be preserved, using Polaroids with small added notes as sweet mementos of their time together. Cooke and O’Connell’s wonderful performances give us faith that their characters will find a way to reconnect. However, after discovering that the government has been working on an unapproved cure for those who have tested positive for NIA, the film shifts its focus.

Blurring the lines between the past and the present, we start to see Emma and Jude’s close kinship bloom from various points in time. From their first encounter at a water park, to sharing their first kiss inside a nightclub and getting matching fish tattoos as their engagement present to each other, the story foregrounds their romance in a way that’s pure and deeply moving.

Hartigan’s tale of young love and healing makes for a beautiful yet brain-bending feature. Built around dreamlike cinematography and Keegan DeWitt’s melancholic score, this is an inventive exploration of the hardships and pain of losing a loved one that speaks from the heart.

Published 5 Feb 2021

Tags: Chad Hartigan Jack O’Connell Little Fish Olivia Cooke

Anticipation.

Olivia Cooke and Jack O’Connell play a struggling married couple.

Enjoyment.

Surreal sci-fi drama speaks from the heart.

In Retrospect.

A memorable romance.

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