Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Little Fish

(Australia, 2005)

When I saw a movie I’d never heard of starring Cate Blanchette, I assumed it was something from early in her career when she wasn’t well-known. Not so. She was already a big star with an Oscar nomination for Elizabeth and a win for playing Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator. (She has since won another for Blue Jasmine.) I respect actors who take parts in small, low-budget films like this, and back in her home country of Australia, to boot. But that doesn’t mean I have to like the movie. It is set in a suburb of Sydney called Cabramatta, known as “Little Saigon” for its high population of Asian minorities, particularly Vietnamese. I tend to forget, the Aussies fought in Southeast Asia alongside Americans, and of course its geographical location makes Australia a popular place for Asian immigrants.

It’s a story of heroin addicts, current and recovering, and there’s not really much of a story here. (The little fish of the title are small plastic bulbs shaped like fish, holding a blue fluid that I assume is smack. I’ve never seen that before.)

Things happen, some people get killed at the end (which we don’t even see), and then it’s over. She has an old flame, Jonny Nguyen, who has returned after a four-year absence in Vancouver. She has another old friend, played by Hugo Weaving (looking not at all like Elrond the Elf from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy), who is still trying unsuccessfully to kick. She has a brother, Ray, who lost part of his leg in an accident caused by Jonny. She wants to buy into a video-rental business where she works but can’t get a loan because of her past bad behavior. These characters interact, along with Sam Neill as a drug kingpin, and then it is over. I wasn’t terribly interested in anything other than the acting, which was quite good for all concerned.

The guy who plays Ray, Martin Henderson, is not an amputee, though you could be forgiven for thinking he is, as they are very clever in the use of a body double and some careful camera angles. This is the low budget way to make something like that work, as opposed to Charlize Theron’s missing left arm in Mad Max: Fury Road, which was done using greenscreen technology.