The Fish Child (Argentina, France, Spain; 96 min.)

directed by: Lucia Puenzo
starring: Inés Efron, Mariela Vitale, Carlos Bardem, Arnaldo  André, Julián Doregger, Sandra Guida, Pep Munné
El Niño Pez

Bruce says: "**Spoilers**

"THE FISH CHILD is taboo director Lucia Puenzo’s follow-up to the remarkable XXY.  Based on her own novel, the multilayered story unfolds with flashbacks through different periods of time, creating a jigsaw effect.   The storyline is complex and hard to follow at first.  The editing is clever in the way it places demands on the viewer to pay attention.  A relaxed go-with-the-flow viewing approach is ultimately helpful in getting past the original confusion.  

"Lala (Inés Efron) is the daughter of a prominent Argentine judge.  La Guayi (Mariela Vitale) is the live-in maid.  Sleep-in, too, if you consider that she and Lala are lovers.   What appears to be a conflict of class is anything but considering La Guayi is the daughter of the leading television star of Paraguay.  In a unique turn of storytelling, La Guayi also happens to be the lover of her own father, Lala’s father and a man who calls himself El Vasco.   To be fair, although she is a victim of abuse there is an element of her character that never says 'no mas.'  The girls dream of running off together to a magical land where joy outweighs despair.  To fulfill such dreams, they need money so Lala starts giving La Guayi paintings and objets d’art for El Vasco to sell on the black market. 

"When Lala spies on her father and La Guayi having sex in his study, she decides to kill him.  She does and quickly hops a bus to Paraguay to visit the house where La Guayi grew up.  In her absence the plan backfires as La Guayi is arrested and imprisoned for the murder largely because of her perceived class.  Lala confronts La Guayi’s father in Paraguay then returns to Argentina to confess her crime.  No one believes her.  Consequently she must be more creative in gaining La Guayi her freedom.

"Beautifully filmed and well-acted THE FISH CHILD becomes burdened with an over explaining of its plot lines.   There are so many twists and turns, layers and facades, that it is difficult to savor the essential story of two people in love.  Explaining this film’s title would require more time than it is worth.      3.5 cats  

"THE FISH CHILD screened at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival."


Vicki says: "Great review - as always - I saw THE FISH CHILD too and found it disjointed and very hard to follow.  It looked beautiful and captured the movie's somewhat bleak mood. Even though the performances were very strong,  the characters left me cold and I didn't really care what happened to them.  It was my fourth movie of the day and perhaps my reaction might have been different had I seen it earlier.  2 1/2 cats  

"(also seen at the Tribeca Film Festival)"