Review: ‘Little Fish’ is a new twist on a familiar heartbreak

Imagine that you have met the love of your life. You have an adorable meet-cute, you share a magical first date, and you connect on a profoundly deep level. Now, imagine that your memories of this relationship are slowly dripping away. This is the story of Little Fish, a love story set in the midst of a global pandemic that causes memory loss and one that will break and fill your heart in equal measure.

With a deceptively simple core set amongst a high concept world, a story like this relies on its actors to work. Jack O’Connell (playing Jack) and Olivia Cooke (playing Emma) have both had their stars on the rise for a while now, and these are exactly the kind of performances in exactly the kind of film that will prove they’re bonafide. O’Connell perfectly sells both the frustration of slowly losing one’s memory and the casual shock at realizing that you might have lost it.

Olivia Cooke as Emma / Little Fish

The film really belongs to Cooke, though, whose performance becomes more and more heartbreaking as Jack slowly slips away from Emma. Both of their performances are sensitive and vulnerable, and you don’t doubt for a second that these characters love each other –even as they are wedged apart.

Little Fish asks us questions about love and memory and the relationship between the two. What is love but memory, and without memory can love last? Can it be renewed each day a la 50 First Dates, or will it be erased forever a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? The film posits answers to this that I won’t spoil, but even if those answers familiar the journey to those answers is well worth taking.

Other thoughts:

  • Little Fish was filmed in Vancouver, so keep an eye out for landmarks locals.
  • The images of the pandemic in this –masks, distancing, etc.– all hits a little close to him, but more so when you realize this movie was produced before the real-world pandemic hit.

Little Fish will premiere on IFC Unlimited –IFC’s subscription streaming service– tomorrow, June 2nd.


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