This adaptation of Aja Gabel’s short story is reminiscent of Michael Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). It’s a romance about how the power of love overcomes memory loss. Even the opening and closing scenes both have the same background and principles. The difference is, Little Fish appears more realistic. Maybe in the end, not everyone was happy, but there was hope.
The magic memory eraser machine was “replaced” by the NIA (Neuroinflammatory Affliction), a virus similar to Alzheimer’s, which causes the sufferer to lose his memory. It could be periodically, it could be suddenly. The virus quickly spreads, creating a global pandemic, people are anxious, chaos is everywhere, many places are quarantined. Movie Review
Sound familiar? Of course it’s just a coincidence, considering that the short story was made in 2011, while the film has started pre-production since early 2019. It seems to show that mass panic due to invisible things that can attack, then kill at any time, has always been one of the collective fears of mankind.
Our protagonists are Emma (Olivia Cooke) and Jude (Jack O’Connell), a husband and wife who have been married for less than a year. Immediately there was interest from the first meeting, and that was natural. Because I myself only need a few minutes to be captivated by them. O’Connell has showcased subtle acting since Starred Up (2013) and ’71 (2014), while Cooke is a master at stealing hearts, as in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015), as well as through emotional performances in Sound of Metal (2020) . Both of them repeated the same achievement in this film. Best Movie Site
They made such a lovely, happy, healthy couple. An impression confirmed by a moment. Emma awkwardly asks for sex, which Jude gently refuses, because at that time, Emma had not officially ended her relationship with her lover (though more accurately called “friends with benefits”). Emma cared about consent, while Jude didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
At first, the NIA did not really affect it, so it infected Ben (Raul Castillo), their best friend. Ben forgets how to play music (the second thing he loves the most), then one day, forgets Samantha (Soko), his lover, and the thing he loves the most. Isn’t our reality the same? The pandemic feels far away, like a dream, before the people closest and dearest are caught in the trap.
The climax is when Jude is infected, starts to forget the little things, and will eventually forget about Emma. At this point, I hope Mattson Tomlin’s script (Project Power) is willing to shed some light on the NIA. What causes the virus? How is the transmission process? The omission of these details may be aimed at keeping the focus on the protagonist’s intimate space, but a more virus-related image, even if only at a glance, can help the viewer become more involved in the world. Even so, Tomlin, especially through his lines, presents an in-depth reflection on life in the midst of a pandemic (Example: “When your disaster is everyone’s disaster, how do you grid?”).
Speaking of intimacy, therein lies the advantage of Chad Hartigan (This Is Martin Bonner, Morris from America) as a director. Little Fish is so touching, thanks to Hartigan’s ability to compose moments that can translate abstract feelings. Exactly how feelings like love and memory leave beauty in the hearts of their owners. Wrapped in dreamy music by Keegan DeWitt, and cinematography by Sean McElwee that often uses dim light, Hartigan brings Emma and Jude’s personal space to the hearts of the audience.
According to a doctor, the brain of NIA sufferers will form false memories to bridge the lost memories, as a form of self-defense mechanism. Jude experienced it. Differentiating which memory is real and which is fake is getting harder and harder by the day. Some memories are not real, and eventually all that is real will be erased, but after spending almost two hours with Emma and Jude, we are made sure that their love is real. Very real.
Like all of us human beings, Emma and Jude may just be two “little fish” struggling in a big pond, or even an ocean. But that doesn’t mean their lives are insignificant. At least for each other, their lives, along with all the love and memories, are the most significant. Amidst the vast ocean of uncertainty, these two small fish continue to swim towards the future. Whether or not there was a past didn’t matter, as long as they were together. Top Movie