Starring Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving. Written by Jacqueline Perske. Directed by Rowan Wood. (14A) 114 min. Opens Feb 24.
Hugo Weaving is unrecognizable in the Australian thriller Little Fish, no mean feat for a guy who replicated himself a million times over in The Matrix trilogy. There's none of Agent Smith's smoothness in Weaving's performance as Lionel Dawson, a faded rugby star brought low by heroin addiction. Lionel can't kick his habit or the company of his sometime lover, petty crime boss Brad "The Jockey" Thompson (Sam Neill).
Both Australasian stalwarts do good work, but they're really just satellites orbiting around the incandescent Cate Blanchett, who stars as Lionel's stepdaughter Tracy. She's an ex-junkie who mortgaged her future as a wild-child teenager; her present thus involves working at a video store and living at home with her mother. Tracy's making a sincere effort to turn her life around by starting a business of her own, but she gets lassoed into a questionable plan hatched by her former boyfriend Jonny (Dustin Nguyen), a cash-strapped dealer planning a big score.
Gritty, dimly lit movies about low-level malefactors are nothing new. But by fitting its shopworn genre elements to a compelling story about the rising demographic of adult children — developmentally arrested grown-ups trying to reverse the reckless hedonism of their teens and twenties — Little Fish stays fresh. AN