In Brief: A pandemic movie that is actually a love story. Define it however you want. In the end, it’s not great but it’s not bad.
Imagine this. Something odd begins to happen. People start losing their memory and forget who they are and just about everything else. They wander the streets lost and confused. And no, this is not because their noses are buried in their smartphones and they quit noticing anything going on around them.
In the case of Little Fish the disease a pandemic called Neuroinflammatory Affliction (NIA) and it causes people to lose their memories. Eventually they forget everything about themselves, their loved ones and their lives.
The movie was filmed in 2019 and the NIA pandemic is set in 2021. Due to a twist of fate, and good fortune for the producers, the movie’s pandemic coincides with our real deal. As we all know, in early 2020 COVID slammed into the planet and plagues us still.
So COVID makes the movie seem almost prophetic. Worrisomely so.
While the movie’s disease isn’t close to COVID, the comparisons come automatically and in rapid fire. Director Chad Hartigan urges you to stop the comparisons. He agrees that while NIA doesn’t turn people into zombies or anything like that, when you think about it, the total, and forever, loss of memory is very frightening.
Terrifying in its totality.
Hartigan says frightening or not, Little Fish is not a horror movie. It is a love story based on a really short, short story written by Aja Gabel. Screenwriter Mattson Tomlin reportedly went through every line of the story to come up with a 90-plus minute script.
Considering the story limits, he did a great job. Tomlin — by the way — is the scriptwriter for the next Batman film, The Batman. It’s going to star Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne.
Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One) is Emma. She’s in love with Jude who is played by Unbroken’s Jack O’Connell. They are in love, married and very happy. Surviving one of them getting the disease is the film’s plot.
Both actors give exceptional performances considering the extremely limited story.
That said, and when you take Hartigan’s advice, and look at Little Fish as a love story, is the film as interesting? Not really. Ironically, it is a pretty good almost apocalyptic movie.
Equally, ironically, it’s one where the love story gets in the way.
Director: Chad Hartigan
Stars: Olivia Cooke, Jack O’Connell, Soko, Raul Castillo
Not rated but probably a hard PG-13 or a soft R. The irony of the film’s making and release is maybe more interesting than the movie. If pandemic flicks are your thing, don’t miss this one. I liked but didn’t love it. Give it a 3 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
You can stream Little Fish on Amazon Prime Video.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.