I’m struggling coming up with much to say about Little Fish. I kind of drifted away after the first few minutes and was only minimally interested from that point on, though I paid a little more attention when the intensity picked up late in the film.
I don’t know though that I can put my finger on much that is wrong with it to explain why it didn’t particularly pull me in. So it may be as much the mood I happened to be in as anything.
It seems well acted. It deals with a serious subject in a mostly frank, realistic way, not dumbed down. It’s a little confusing here and there (especially when one is not paying close attention), but not terribly so.
But it’s slow-paced and sluggish in style, with the sullen low-key music playing under most scenes fitting perfectly the mood of the film. Of course movies can be downers in ways that are emotionally powerful and thought-provoking, but this one didn’t grab me at any kind of a deep level like that.
It’s an Australian movie about a woman dealing with drug issues. Much of the worst occurred several years prior to what we see in the movie—she nearly died of an overdose, and her brother was crippled in a car accident with her drunk or high boyfriend driving—so this is more about the aftermath of her drug involvement.
She’s clean (for now), but many of her friends and family are still into drugs, or could fall back into it at any time, which puts her in tricky situations as far as how and how much to remain a part of their lives.
Her single mother is strong and supportive, but can be harsh and resentful about the way her children have damaged their lives with drugs, and the way others have facilitated their doing so.
In general, it’s a movie of people somewhat willing to love, somewhat willing to accept love, somewhat willing to reach out for help, somewhat willing to forgive, somewhat willing to overcome their own guilt, etc., but never really enough to be happy, to make healthy connections, to heal. There’s always enough self-doubt, enough distrust, enough uncertainty about rebuilding burned bridges to keep the movie from having any truly uplifting, unambiguously happy, positive moments.
I was going to say there’s an overall pessimistic feel to the movie, but not in the sense of “These people are fucked up and always will be, and there’s no hope for them.” Nothing as extreme or certain as that. But clearly they will struggle to overcome the damage of their past and present involvement in this drug subculture, and even if they emerge from it able to rebuild a decent life (as the main character has taken steps toward doing for several years), they will not do so unscathed.
Which is real, and is psychologically interesting and important. But also depressing. And for me the depressing—to some extent boring—element seems to have affected my experience of Little Fish more than the elements that I admire.