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Go Fish
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by Todd LaPlace

"Who doesn’t love talkative lesbians?"
4 stars

If you’re the kind of movie watcher that likes lots of explosions and monosyllabic, pec-heavy guys saving buxom babes, “Go Fish” isn’t really the movie for you. But then again, if you came looking for an action filled named after a kid’s card game, you have bigger problems than not finding the right film. If, however, you want a to watch a black and white movie about a group of lesbians that like to sit around and talk about their complete lack of or completely flourishing sex lives, you can’t find a better one.

There is a surreal moment about two-thirds into “Go Fish” when Daria (Anastasia Sharp) is accosted and interrogated by a jury of lesbians about her decision to have causal sex with a man. The jury fights within its ranks whether she should really label herself as a lesbian and whether she should inform her female lovers of her sexual history. It was an interesting choice to interrupt the narrative flow to have a supporting character abrasively debate the sexual identity that accompanies being a lesbian, especially when the narrative itself is subtly attempting to the do the same thing.

The disruption exposes the film’s major criticism; the picture often trips over its own self-importance. The film’s five characters are broadly designed to represent the realistic diversity of lesbians, but that also forces them to become bad stereotypes. They just devolve into one-word characterizations — there’s the butch one, the closeted one, the naïve one, the horny one and, to quote the film, the “crunchy” one. The film is so wrapped up in presenting this wide array of figures that the narrative suffers under blunt interjections of lesbian power, which is likely to alienate viewers.

Despite its self-righteousness, at its core, “Go Fish” is actually a sweet little nontraditional romance story. Max (Guin Turner) is a pretty, young, celibate-by-circumstance twenty-something that rooms with harsh professor Kia (T. Wendy McMillian). She’s the shallow newbie that is aware of her own hotness and the lack thereof in the rest of Chicago’s single lesbian crowd (she breaks out the U.G.L.Y. song in a café). One of the women without an alibi is Ely (V.S. Brodie), a tea-loving homebody that rooms with the sexually charged Daria and her rotating collection of sex partners.

Clearly, this isn’t an uncommon cinematic story. The opposites attract story has been done by the French, by Disney, by the teeny-bopper comedy crowd. The element that sets this one apart, though, is the beautifully awkward moments between Max and Ely as they slowly begin to romance each other. They trip over basic words. Their conversations are filled with silence. The film even hits its peak by having them use a pair of temperamental nail clippers as an excuse for foreplay.

Most of the credit for the difference should go to rookie director Rose Troche. Instead of forcing the story, she allows it to organically grow at its own pace. The thing about these mid-’90s slacker comedies is that the directing doesn’t really matter. The directors traded in the excessive style of the ’80s for a more ’90s-friendly subdued substance. Troche does occasionally fall into the far-too-common trap of beginner, weird, avant-garde film school bullshit by interrupting many of the early scenes with throw away shots of milk mixing in a drink or sneakers crunching gravel, but these moments are rare, quickly disappear and only rate as a mild annoyance. Overall, Troche’s minimal approach does well with such a weighty story, which makes this a lost film worth tracking down.

Among the 17 films competing for the dramatic category at Sundance, “Go Fish” actually shared a lot in common with fellow contender “Clerks,” the directorial debut of Kevin Smith. It makes sense that both Troche and Smith would connect outside the context of the competition, as their films competed with similar elements. Both films were low-budget, black-and-white character studies that were heavy on the dialogue, tension and excessive use of film school technique. Both are also underappreciated films that aren’t seen as the complex character studies they are. “Go Fish” is certainly not a perfect film, but it’s got an honesty that makes it a rare ’90s indie gem.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2242&reviewer=401
originally posted: 06/26/05 02:45:11
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User Comments

10/27/05 Aloña Very good film-documental 5 stars
8/05/04 spanish really like it! 5 stars
5/16/04 Brook fascinating 5 stars
6/01/03 anti-eliza Guinevere Turner.....need I say more? 5 stars
5/08/01 Angela Milne To be fair its a low budget film, however i they could have achieved more with the subject. 2 stars
12/26/00 moonie YUCK! 1 stars
1/08/00 KATE I LOVED IT! 4 stars
12/09/99 sarah it's unusual, watch it with an open mind 5 stars
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  01-Jul-1994 (R)

  08-Jul-1994 (18)

  N/A (R)

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