Little Fish

Critics Consensus

Fueled by powerful work from a strong cast led by Cate Blanchett, Little Fish is a hard-hitting story worth watching -- and a major step forward for director Rowan Woods.

90%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 29

57%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 79,995
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Movie Info

A former drug-addict in her early thirties attempts to put her shady past to rest while paving the way for a brighter future in director Rowan Woods' tale of love, trust, and redemption in modern-day Australia. Tracy Heart (Cate Blanchett) hasn't lived her 32 years so much as she has simply survived them. Ravaged by the drug-addiction and determined to redeem herself in the eyes of her overworked single-mother Janelle (Noni Hazelhurst), Tracy makes a personal vow to open her own business and turn her life around before it's too late and life has passed her by. Tracy's plan is complicated, however, when three men from her past reappear with their own plans for the future. In addition to the troubling re-appearance of her ex-boyfriend Jonny (Dustin Nguyen), her criminal-minded brother Ray (Martin Henderson) seems hell-bent on making a name for himself in the underworld, and the emotional demands of troubled family friend and ex-football star Lionel Dawson (Hugo Weaving) have left the emotionally vulnerable Tracy shaken and confused. When Tracy's modest dreams of a happy life catch the attention of feared criminal kingpin Bradley "The Jockey" Thompson (Sam Neill), she is forced to place her fragile trust in the hands of her skeptical mother and take one last trip into the past to confront her greatest fear. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Cast

Cate Blanchett
as Tracy Heart
Hugo Weaving
as Lionel Dawson
Noni Hazlehurst
as Janelle Heart
Anh Do
as Tran
Anthony Wong
as Mr. Chan
Bic Runga
as Night Club Singer
Thi Lan Nguyen
as Old Nanna
Penny Pederson
as Real Estate Agent
Rachel Aveling
as Receptionist
Alex Cook
as Little Tracy
Rebecca Bell
as Young Janelle
Sarah Patterson
as Little Ray
Peter Tkacz
as Young Lionel
Lily Nguyen
as Other Girl (Reunion)
Jazz Ly
as Dealer
Sarah Woods
as Teacher
Amy Pedersen
as Receptionist 2
Stella Ha Vi Do
as Woman in Video Shop
Jon Sivewright
as Footy Fan
Rudi Tusik
as Drug Car Driver
Jessamie Dunton-Rose
as Young Girl in Pub
Craig Forrest
as Jockey's Young Man
View All

News & Interviews for Little Fish

Critic Reviews for Little Fish

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (3)

  • The actors give performances of intense naturalness.

    Jul 22, 2006 | Full Review…

    Philip French

    Guardian
    Top Critic
  • It's a sober, sensitive film ... about degrees of dependency, grief, guilt, recrimination and recuperation.

    Jul 20, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • It's a tidy showcase for Cate Blanchett as a recovering drug addict struggling to throw off the shackles of her past, but Sam Neill and Hugo Weaving also shine ...

    Jul 1, 2006 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A small film with a big cast, Little Fish is notable for its performances.

    Feb 27, 2006 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • If you say you'd watch Cate Blanchett in anything, here's your chance to prove it.

    Feb 24, 2006 | Rating: 1/4
  • Cate Blanchett sinks into the role of a recovering drug addict in a thorny, compelling drama from Australia.

    Feb 23, 2006 | Rating: 3/5

Audience Reviews for Little Fish

  • Feb 21, 2016
    Decent performances from the majority of the cast. Enjoyed seeing Cate Blanchett in a 100% drama, instead of the usual dizzy high-grossing heights feature, with a minimalist script and actor driven which only strengthens it. Well researched and the better for it.
    Sanity Assassin ! Super Reviewer
  • Sep 22, 2014
    This will surely be a lively film, what with its being an adaptation of Michael John LaChiusa's 2003 musical of the same name... right? Yeah, that was a lame, forced reference, but it's not like I could have quoted the Brian Eno [u]instrumental[/u] "Little Fishes", which is bogus, because that indulgence in ambient artistry better reflects just how exciting this film is. I'm still glad to see Cate Blanchett finally fulfilling her true roots, and by that, I am not referring to the fact that Blanchett is Australian, no matter how much she's tap danced around the home culture that catches up with her here, but to the fact she actually looks like a fish. No, she's cute in this film, and she's not playing a fish, because where "Big Fish" was all about fantasy, this film is about the harsh realities faced by former drug addicts. ...So, yeah, in other words, where the story of "Big Fish" was probably inspired by pot and psychedelics, this film is openly inspired by heroin, which isn't to say that this film is quite as lively as "Big Fish". You'd think that there would be more colorful sci-fi or fantasy from Rowan Woods, what with his directing a couple episodes of "Farscape", but don't worry, fans of that show, because this film is at least extremely Australian, , at least because it's very dry. Okay, now, this film is decent, but, again, intrigue is a little loose, as is originality. This is a very conventional meditative, pseudo-arty drama that follows the usual characters along the usual plot formula, no matter which angle it takes as a somewhat focally uneven ensemble character piece. The film might pack on a few too many layers to juggle with adequate coherency, because through all of the plot branching is a narrative that doesn't have much in the way of weighty and urgency, conceptually thriving on some sort of slow, but sure character progression that the storytelling doesn't even manage to keep consistent with. It takes a long while to get used to the characters, because there is no immediate background development, which is compensated for in gradual exposition, up to a point, until focus in characterization is shaken up by the aforementioned disjointed story branch shifts, and by occasions in which focus in storytelling style also finds itself lapsing. Early on, the film ought to give one concerns that it will suffer from some sort of arthouse abstractionism, and then it finds a more grounded, traditional path, occasionally to jar back into those meditations on more-or-less nothing, resulting in a stylistic unevenness that messily juggles the artistic ambitions of this film which at least keeps consistent in one thing: a sluggish pace. The aimlessness and dryness may peak with those meditative moments in which reasonably engaging dialogue and characterization highlights are near-totally halted, but at almost two hours of a somewhat simple story, this film drags along, with filler and repetition that are made all the more glacial by Rowan Woods' subdued atmosphere, which ranges from rather blanding to just about challenging. The film is more sufficiently interesting than I jokingly let on earlier, and with the subtle sharpness in writing and acting, it's rarely terribly boring, but it is slow something fierce, too limp to overcome natural shortcomings, familiarity, inconsistencies and problematic exposition. The final product does try your patience a bit, but it does endear those with plenty of patience to spare just fine, with adequate dramatic effectiveness, and decisive artistic integrity. Nathan Larson's score is seriously underused, and strictly minimalist to begin with, maybe a little awkwardly experimental, yet when it does come into play, it proves to be one of the more realized aspects of the film, with a tender taste that is haunting by its own right, and brings some sense of vibrancy to the problematic heights in the taking advantage of an artistic license. The visual style of the film also keeps the artistic integrity of this drama fairly stable, for although Danny Ruhlman's cinematography runs technical shortcomings in the cinematography through a subtly intense range in lighting in order to craft a handsome palette throughout the course of this film, there are certain shots that are nearly breathtaking in their realization, in the efforts of both Ruhlman and Rowan Woods. Woods' artistic approach is sometimes misguided to the point of leading into an aimless meditativeness that exacerbates consistently sluggish pacing that is anchored by Woods' subdued atmosphere, so it's not as though Woods ever does anything especially spectacular as a dramatic director, but his aesthetic tastes, as I said, have their admirable heights, many of which come with so much depth that they bring life to the tender subtlety of this drama. Again, there never is a point in this film, at least for me, in which the emotional resonance really soars, but there are a number of touching, audacious moments, and that's something I wasn't really expecting in a film this dry, despite the promising subject matter. Now, the plot concept of the film itself is flimsy, what with its familiarity, thinness and unevenness, but at its core, this story is rich, taking on an audaciously realist approach to themes regarding struggling to overcome a dark past which just won't depart, and doing so with a great deal of help from Jacquelin Perske's solidly convincing dialogue, and worthy, if undercooked characters, brought to life by even worthier performances. When it comes to the supporting cast, Dustin Nguyen, Martin Henderson, Sam Neill and Joel Tobeck hold their own, while Noni Hazlehurst, as an angry mother fearing that her children might not be able to fully return from dark paths, and Hugo Weaving, as a junkie suffering in an attempt to make a better life for himself, steal the show, and as for leading lady Cate Blanchett, she may not be given a great amount of material, yet she still manages to capture the humanity and pain of a woman who finds her path to redemption bumped up by past demons, and by peers who might not be what she hoped they would be. There is a lot of heart in this film's cast, and storytelling, for that matter, and although such a heart doesn't have enough pump to it for the drama to reward, or even challenge underwhelmingness all that much, where the final product could have fallen into mediocrity under the weight of misguidance, decency, intrigue and, to an extent, impact are maintained serviceably. When it comes time to swim away, the film all but drowns as rather ineffective amidst all of its conventions, focal and stylistic inconsistencies, narrative thinness, and sluggish pacing, but there is some distinct inspiration to bring life to important subject matter within the haunting score work and cinematography, tasteful direction, convincing writing and strong performances - especially by Noni Hazlehurst, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett - which secure Rowan Woods' "Little Fish" as a fair, if challenging portrait on the harsh persistence of a regrettable past, and how that can affect the future of someone and his or her loved ones. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 07, 2010
    An all star Aussie lineup returns to their roots to piece together this extraordinary bit of drama. Nice to see that some people do in fact embrace their own cinema despite going Hollywood.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 27, 2010
    Yet another Australian film about drug addicts. Yawn.
    Robert F Super Reviewer

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