Based on the sci-fi short by Aja Gabel, ‘Little Fish’ is a remarkable love story that packs a punch – tender, bleak, tense yet brimming with the vivacity of life and the power of hope.
Short story adaptations are tricky nuts to crack but allow room to build upon the many layers of texture and nuance that already exist within each piece. The director, Chad Hartigan, strings together a beautiful yet heart wrenching tale that would have been just any other speculative fiction feature had we not been in the middle of a pandemic ourselves. What starts off as a conventional drama soon reveals itself as a genre bending love story for the ages – elevated by somber yet intimate visuals, an inspired cast and a powerful script that changes gears effortlessly as the story unfolds.
There’s panic, fear and chaos as people start fading away as a result of the affliction which has no cure – either a slow yet steady loss of one’s self or a cruel and intense all-at-once snap that renders them lost at sea. But there’s also intimacy and exuberance replete with metaphors on life and existence with magical wisps and swirls of love and companionship – the warmth and sincerity would not have come through without the two leads though.
Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel) & Jack O’ Connell (Unbroken, Starred Up) are spellbinding as they traverse a path of uncertainty, fear and hopelessness – during a pandemic that causes people to lose their memory. The two stars are outstanding actors who may not be household names, but that will change soon enough with Olivia’s involvement in the Game of Thrones spin-off ‘House of The Dragon’ and Jack’s role as a war hero in Steven Knight’s (Peaky Blinders, Locke) ‘SAS: Rogue Heroes’ – a historical drama mini-series.
‘Little Fish’ is a provocative, impactful and deeply affecting film that will leave you in tatters as it reaches its climax – as much as it sets out to absolutely destroy you, by the end of it, it manages to put all those tiny little pieces together, lifts you up and makes you whole again.
There’s something absolutely poetic about stories that come full circle. They manage to stay with you for a long long time. Boy, what a great ending!