First Maggie Cheung, now Cate Blanchett. After the Hong Kong heroine’s junkie turn in Clean, the elfin Galadriel ditches the soft-focus to get down and druggie in Aussie director Rowan Woods’ second feature. It didn’t score in cinemas, but the DVD proves Blanchett cuts it.
Little Fish focuses on someone struggling with the tidal tug of past connections – call it A History Of Heroin. Blanchett’s Tracy is an ex-junkie trying to drum up the dough to buy a video store, but a friend (Hugo Weaving) is in thick with a comb-over crime boss, an old squeeze is warming a spoon and... well, everyone’s doing something wicked. Over-egged and under-surprising, then? Perhaps. If the backstories (lost legs, failed rugby careers etc...) here could be injected, they’d floor armies. The sense that some characters won’t survive feels less like social insight than the kind of thing that happens in this sort of one-track film.
Still, Little Fish reels you in. The hook is Blanchett, using her struggle to shake off her sheen to help nail the tensions in a woman struggling to shake off a murkier past. Woods’ hyperreal mood-movie visuals (explored in a brief Making Of which, together with a UK exclusive director interview, form the sparse extras) are immersive, too, even as the laboured plot trundles off the rails at the close. It’s not quite the pure stuff, but it gets you somewhere.