Little Fish is a science fiction story of love and loss in a pandemic. The film was finished before the COVID 19 pandemic began, and the timing was an accident. In Little Fish, the pandemic involves NIA (neuro inflammatory affliction), which creates memory loss. It’s on Prime Video and Hulu.
Jack O’Connell and Olivia Cooke star in Little Fish. These two have warm and lovely chemistry on the screen and really sell the film as a love story. But it’s also a story about losing everyone you love to a disease that takes away who you are bit by bit. With a bit of sci-fi wonderment to close out the film, the film is surprisingly delightful.
When Emma (Olivia Cooke) and Jude (Jack O’Connell) meet at the beginning of the film, she tells him, “I was so sad the day I met you. I don’t remember why. But I do remember that when I saw you, I wasn’t sad anymore.” As they get acquainted and fall in love, the chaos of NIA is all around them. Their friends get the disease and forget everything.
Jude starts showing symptoms. Unlike some of their friends, the disease does not affect Jude’s love for Emma. They set up a wall of photographs and quiz each other on details of their lives as a reminder each day. It’s the best way they can cope with the loss of information Jude is experiencing. Tattoos were also used as memory devices by people with the disease.
Their memories are told in non-linear order and might be from Jude’s point of view or from Emma’s. The two are not always the same. The non-linear structure of the film is important. It helps you get to know the characters and it allows that little sci-fi punch at the end to really make sense of and add polish to the whole effort.
They hear of a treatment. Jude wants it but can’t get it legally. Emma is a vet tech. She takes Jude to her clinic late and night and performs the treatment on him herself. It consists of poking a rod through the roof of his mouth into his brain. It doesn’t work, but it doesn’t kill him. (It sounds a lot like some of the crazy ideas floated about COVID 19 like injecting bleach into your veins, doesn’t it?)
Like Alzheimer’s Disease, NIA leaves the person with a healthy body but no memory of who or what they are. In some cases people become violent with those they loved before.
The film was directed by Chad Hartigan. Olivia Cooke was executive producer and took advantage of that power to let Emma speak with Cooke’s own English accent. The film is based on a short story by Aja Gabel, which you can read free here. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gabel described the story as grounded sci-fi, or science fiction with a literary bent.
I haven’t seen much in the way of buzz or hype over this film, but it’s a beautiful film and story. It deserves to be seen.
Have a look at the trailer.
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