The year is 2021. A frightened, angry crowd lines up outside a medical center, desperate for a cure for a terrible virus. “He pushed in front!” someone shouts.
Talk about timing. When he began making Little Fish, an intimate and affecting romance in a sci-fi setting, director Chad Hartigan had no idea the world would be coping with a real pandemic in the real 2021. Watching this fictional society begin to fray in panic feels just a tad too close for comfort.
Perhaps it’s for the best, then, that Little Fish, starring the very appealing duo of Olivia Cooke and Jack O’Connell, is a sci-fi romance that doesn’t spend too much time on the “sci.”
Yes, this virus — NIA, or Neuroinflammatory Affliction — terrifyingly causes its victims to lose their memories, sometimes suddenly and sometimes slowly, with no relation to age, gender or anything else. But the focus here is on the role that memory plays in a relationship. Obviously, the memories we create together are crucial building blocks. But if they disappear, does the love remain? And what does that look like? Without a past, can we have a present, not to mention a future?
We begin on a windswept beach in the Seattle area. A young woman, Emma, sits alone, crying. A friendly dog runs up for a cuddle, soon followed by its owner, Jude. He’s surprised by her charming northern England accent. They smile.
The clever script by Mattson Tomlin flips around in time over the couple’s yearlong relationship, from first cute kiss — on line for the bathroom in a club — to moving in together, to cute proposal in a pet store, to marriage. While the approach is not linear, it doesn’t feel confusing, either, although it might be if you really tried to chronologize everything.
There’s no question we’re rooting for both of these charismatic characters. Emma, a veterinary technician, aims for a better future as a scientist. Jude is a photographer who’s been chronicling the touring rock band led by his friend, Ben. When he texts Emma soon after they meet, she’s at a Halloween party. He invites her to his party instead. She looks like George Washington, but says she’s dressed as 18th-century French veterinarian Claude Bourgelat. By the time she gets upstairs, he knows exactly who that is. “What’s your costume, guy who Googles things and pretends he already knows them?” she cracks, sweetly.
Soon they’re a couple, building memories together like that time they painted their walls yellow — Emma’s favorite color — and had a rambunctious paint fight. But remember — these memories come to us just as they’re getting lost. And so we wonder: Whose memories are we seeing, anyway? His, hers, or no one’s?
The first scary reports seem far away from everyday life. There’s a fisherman who forgot how to operate his boat, so he jumped into the water to swim home. People suddenly forget how to drive cars. Most seriously, pilots lose the ability to fly, midair.
Then the virus hits Ben (Raul Castillo). His girlfriend Sam (the singer-songwriter Soko, performing some of her own work) takes him to a tattoo parlor and has a key piece of music inked onto his arm.
And then, Jude. At first it’s the little details — he shows up hours late to a job taking wedding pictures. He forgets arguments he and Emma just had. One day Emma sees that he’s labeled the back of a photo: “Emma, wife.” It’s a desperate race against time to find a cure, or a treatment. Cooke’s slow-burn panic is heartbreaking to watch.
The film has strong echoes of the 2004 classic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where the same question arose: What remains when memories disappear? On top of this, Little Fish asks, how much are we allowed to mourn when the grief is not unique to us?
Or, in a line from Emma that surely couldn’t be more timely in the real 2021: “When your disaster is everyone’s disaster, how do you grieve?”
Taiwan is a crowded country. The average home is small. Farmers tend fields which, by North American standards, are tiny. At the same time, the pace of life is fast. Rushing from A to B, it’s easy to miss some of Taiwan’s smaller attractions. None of the three manmade curiosities described in this article justifies going hours out of your way, but if you’re passing nearby, you won’t regret stopping to take a look at any of them. SHALU’S NOSTALGIC PAINTINGS Shalu’s Nostalgic Paintings (沙鹿懷舊彩繪), also known as Meiren Borough Painted Village (美仁里彩繪村), is a set of colorful artworks depicting Taiwan
In the introduction to his new manual on how to live a meaningful life, Jordan Peterson sets the tone by recounting the hellish sequence of health crises that afflicted his family during 2019 and last year. They included his wife’s diagnosis with a rare and usually lethal form of kidney cancer, and his own downward spiral from severe anxiety and dangerously low blood pressure into benzodiazepine dependency and an acute withdrawal response, near total insomnia, pneumonia in both lungs, and “overwhelming thoughts of self-destruction,” culminating in his waking from a medically induced coma in a Russian intensive care unit with
March 8 to March 14 Forty-five years after her husband was executed in front of the Chiayi Railway Station, 93-year-old Chang Chieh (張捷) was still terrified to discuss what happened. She wasn’t the only one; for decades few dared to speak of the 228 Incident of 1947, an anti-government uprising that was violently suppressed. As wife of the famous painter Chen Cheng-po (陳澄波), Chang is one of the better known widows of the 228 Incident, and not just because of her husband’s name. She calmly retrieved Chen’s body, had someone snap a photo of the corpse and secretly
You don’t have to be grunting in a gym or grinding out the laps of the park to get a sweat on. Incidental exercise can be just as beneficial, and much easier to incorporate into daily routines. “It’s any activity that is part of daily living,” says Prof Emmanuel Stamatakis, an expert in physical activity at the University of Sydney, “rather than something that is done for the purpose of fitness, health or entertainment.” Stamatakis says that incidental exercise, which is termed “intermittent lifestyle physical activity” by academics, is under-researched. But a paper he co-authored in 2018 found that sudden bursts