Thursday, February 4, 2021

A pandemic of lost memory

 Little Fish is the second movie I've seen this year that deals with a pandemic in which memory loss becomes rampant. Apples, a Greek movie that traveled the fall festival circuit, took place in Athens where many people were being struck by amnesia. Director Christos Nikou took a more complex view of memory loss than Little Fish director Chad Hartigan, who works in a more familiar key. Hartigan builds his story around a romance between newlyweds played by Olivia Cooke and Jack O'Connell. What begins as a conventional romance takes a strange turn when O'Connell's Jude begins to lose his memory. He's not the only one. What the movie calls Neuroinflammatory Affliction (NIA) has caused widespread memory loss. Much of the story involves efforts by Cooke's Emma to keep O'Connell's Jude from vanishing into a forgetful haze. A question arises: Is it possible to sustain a relationship when memory begins to vanish? The movie retreats from the question when it slips into romantic mode and a subplot involving a possible corrective program by a research outfit doesn't really go anywhere. Cooke and O'Connell make an appealing couple and we seldom feel deprived by the lack of an explanation for the disorder that's sweeping the globe. Obviously, the sense of disconnection from the familiar jibes well with the current Covid 19 environment. Although the movie can be a bit bland, I doubt whether many viewers will be disappointed that Little Fish plays more like romance than speculative sci-fi, flirting with larger questions as Emma and Jude try to hold onto each other and themselves.

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