“…a film of all-too-rare power, conviction and emotion.”
For his long awaited second feature film, director Rowan Woods revisits the same bleak territory that he so memorably traversed in his debut The Boys. But while Little Fish occupies a similar geography (it’s set in Sydney’s multicultural south-west, rife with drug addiction and crime), it still manages moments of great beauty and near transcendence. Woods has once again proven himself a master at maintaining a strong sense of mood while also giving seemingly unlikable characters a huge well of heart and soul. It’s a canny and difficult mix, but it marks Little Fish as another powerful stand-alone film for the director.
Tracy Heart (Cate Blanchett) is off the gear but still struggling to stay clean. Drugs are everywhere around her. Her brother (Martin Henderson) is caught up in the trade; her near pathetic father figure (Hugo Weaving) is an addict; and her ex-boyfriend Jonny (Dustin Nguyen) has returned from Canada, seemingly with a new job but looking suspiciously like he’s walking the same old beat. Can Tracy hold it together?
Though harsh and often unpleasant, Little Fish is all about hope, and a number of scenes (including a breathtaking set piece that gives new life to Cold Chisel’s classic “Flame Trees”) cut through the unpleasantness with a kind of ringing beauty.
The film, however, lives and breathes through its performances. Blanchett is brittle and wholly sympathetic, while Martin Henderson, Dustin Nguyen and Sam Neill are all striking in support. But it’s Hugo Weaving who steals the show with a stunningly brave turn.
Strong, raw, occasionally confrontational, often ugly, but always compelling, Little Fish is a film of all-too-rare power, conviction and emotion.