The Reel Review
When your disaster is everyone’s disaster, how do you grieve? That heartbreaking line from Olivia Cooke in Little Fish sums up the frustration of circumstances in this romantic/sci-fi drama set in the not too distant future, where a Seattle couple quietly tries to cope with life and their burgeoning love affair during a global viral pandemic that causes memory loss – some sudden, some gradual – in those who are infected.
There is a strange, prescient irony that Little Fish was actually filmed PRIOR to the current COVID-19 pandemic. While it adds a sense of urgency and relatability to writer/director Chad Hartigan’s love story between Emma (Olivia Cooke) and Jude (Jack O’Connell), the story itself moves at a sluggish place, its flashbacks and poignant voiceover narration from Cooke (Sound of Metal) set to a melancholic backdrop of strangers and friends succumbing to the illness in various shocking and horrible ways.
Where the film is most effective is capturing the subtle moments – be it the loving tenderness in the relationship between Emma and Jude, or the heartbreak at witnessing loved ones mentally slip away. The slow montages, which sometimes are a bit too cutesy, are nonetheless beautifully filmed, illustrating that love is the sum of our memories.
• Filming began in March 2019, with Little Fish‘s scheduled world premiere at the April 2020 Tribeca Film Festival postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Englishman Jack O’Connell received a BAFTA Rising Star Award for his portrait of war hero Louis Zamperini in the Angelina Jolie-directed 2014 film Unbroken.