When a virus which causes memory loss takes its toll on the population, a young married couple try to hold onto whatever they can, for as long as possible. Starring Olivia Cooke (Sound of Metal) and Jack O’Connell, Little Fish is a timely film, strangely enough, as it deals with a global crisis. But the love story at its core is the part that keeps you enthralled, giving viewers a sincere science-fiction romance hybrid.
Newly married, Emma (Cooke) and Jude (O’Connell) are facing something they could have never imagined. A new virus is sweeping across the population, which leads to severe memory loss, sometimes causing violent, fear-induced outbursts. They’ve watched as it’s wrecked their friends lives and even strangers around them. When Jude begins to forget little things, Emma sadly knows where he’s headed.
To help, Emma does whatever she can to have Jude hold onto any memories. Trying her best to write things down, remind him of their relationship, and quiz him on their past; whatever allows them to continue to enjoy their time together. Though a cure is hopefully on the horizon, his condition continues to deteriorate as the world around them does as well, and Emma can’t help but feel defeated by the reality at hand.
Based on the short story by Aja Gabel, Little Fish takes you on a very different journey through a relationship, against the backdrop of a pandemic. The story stays driven by its characters and their experiences, rather than focusing too much on the grimness of the virus. I really loved how their relationship was told throughout the film in fragments; going back and forth from past and present. It’s like we’re learning all the pieces of their history in the same way Jude is having to now. And as those pieces continue to be placed, you connect with this couple so deeply.
There is something so beautiful and heartbreaking about a lost love, but it’s even more emotional when it’s happening right in front of you. There is a line that Cooke delivers in the film, where her character wonders, “how to build a future, if you keep having to rebuild the past”, which I think beautifully encompasses the film, more specifically the hopelessness Emma feels.
The film also has wonderful cinematography that really elevates some important moments in the story. Even the color grading feels so thoughtful at times, as we explore various parts of their life. I especially loved how director Chad Hartigan was able to make a group of aquariums in a pet store, look like the most romantic place on earth. It all beautifully brings Gabel’s short story to life on screen in a meaningful way.
While its release couldn’t be more ironically timed, Little Fish does an incredible of job of not feeling like a pandemic film, despite it being a crucial part to the story. It has just enough sci-fi edge to cover that angle, but the characters are what truly fuels it as a whole, and is the part that will stick with you. If you can handle watching something that takes place during such an event, this is one to look out for.
Little Fish is available on VOD Friday, February 5th