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Passion Fish
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by Elaine Perrone

"John Sayles loves women, and it shows!"
5 stars

1992's Passion Fish is a warm, witty two-women tours de force and a real departure from John Sayles' usual sprawling, multi-character studies.

Mary McDonnell and Alfre Woodard star as, respectively, May-Alice Culhane, a daytime-soap actress rendered paraplegic as a result of a freak taxi accident, and Chantelle, her caregiver, a recovering addict. Both women shine as damaged women who find strength within themselves and, after an uneasy start, abiding friendship in each other.

Waking up in a hospital bed after her accident to find that she can't move her legs, May-Alice rails against the nurses who are trying to care for her, and refuses to participate in any rehabilitative exercises. Returning to her ancestral home in Louisiana, she becomes a self-proclaimed "bitch on wheels," where she alienates and drives off a series of home-caregivers while she spends all her own time sitting in front of the television drinking.

Things change when Chantelle arrives on the scene. Every bit as stubborn as May-Alice, and with issues of her own, she not only refuses to be cowed by her employer but stands up to her as no one has dared do before. When May-Alice refuses to do any exercises, Chantelle strands her outside rather than catering to her. Her retort to May-Alice's complaint that "It's all uphill," is, "So's life."

When May-Alice learns that Chantelle is struggling through issues not so very different from her own, she begins to have a change of attitude about her own situation and an empathy for the other woman that benefits both of them.

Mary McDonnell received a well-deserved Acadamy Award nomination for her performance; Alfre Woodard should have.

Likewise fine in supporting roles are Sayles regular David Strathairn as Rennie, a Cajun handyman who was May-Alice's childhood crush, now married with five children; and Vondie Curtis-Hall as Sugar LeDoux, the charming cowboy with whom Chantelle becomes involved.

A bonus is Nancy Mette's hilariously poignant (or poignantly hilarious) monologue about landing, preparing for and rehearsing, then delivering, in varying "colors," her first one-line part: "I didn't ask for the anal probe."

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2366&reviewer=376
originally posted: 08/01/04 23:49:50
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User Comments

10/07/04 carlina atittude is the first step for the good thing to happens 5 stars
11/21/03 Jinnvisible passionate and watery 4 stars
5/29/03 Phil M. Aficionado Has the ring of authentic human possibility; great performances and atmosphere as well. 4 stars
3/23/00 monica sayles could have made this into a sentimental piece of junk. he never takes the easy appro 5 stars
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  29-Jan-1993 (R)



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