Little Fish (15)
Time Out says
Tue Jul 18 2006The Hearts are hanging in there… but only just. Tracy (Cate Blanchett) is trying to get a bank to loan her the cash that would enable her to buy from her boss the Sydney video store in which she works. Neither the banks nor, for that matter, her mum Janelle (Noni Hazlehurst) have much faith in her future; they’re clearly worried she might succumb to the heroin addiction she painfully put behind her five years ago. That’s when her brother Ray (Martin Henderson) lost his legs in an accident for which Janelle holds both Lionel (Hugo Weaving) and Jonny (Dustin Nguyen) responsible. Trouble is, Ray – who’s dealing drugs – and Tracy feel otherwise about the two men, albeit for very different reasons. So there’d be tension enough between the Hearts without the subtle but sinister shadow cast over their lives by a local Mr Big, Brad ‘The Jockey’ Thompson (Sam Neill)…
This brief synopsis suggests both the complexity of the various relationships at play in Woods’ follow-up to ‘The Boys’ and the story’s potential for a slide towards melodrama. Happily, while the film could have lapsed into crime-thriller cliché or sensationalist hysteria, Woods prefers to concentrate on characterisation and interplay. The details of the Hearts’ backstory are revealed only gradually, so interesting nuances develop as the film proceeds. Likewise, what looks set to be a tense but trite finale never actually arrives; the loss in suspense is more than compensated for by the gain in plausibility and moral resonance.
It’s a sober, sensitive film, then, about degrees of dependency, grief, guilt, recrimination and recuperation. Striving to overcome anxiety, loneliness and resentment, the various characters move in endless murky circles, inhabiting an almost incestuously closed world where drugs, deceit and despair forever threaten to drag them down. It’s an admirably tough film, too; the fine performances never romanticise the characters. Consequently, the glimmer of hope that accompanies one of their number finally taking proper control is richly deserved, and rightly rewarding.
Author: Geoff Andrew
Thu Jul 21, 2005