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Go Fish (1994)

Cast: Guinevere Turner, Guinevere Turner, T. Wendy McMillan, more...
Director: Rose Troche, Rose Troche
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: MGM
Genre: Comedies, Independent, Romantic Comedy, Gay & Lesbian, Features
Running Time: 88 min.
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: Spanish, French
    see additional details...

This hit arthouse ensemble piece traces the romantic and political ups and downs of a group of multicultural Chicago lesbians. The central story involves an unlikely romance between Max (Guinevere Turner), a hip young babe, and Ely (V.S. Brodie), a slightly older woman involved in a long-term, long-distance relationship that's basically a smokescreen for her fear of romantic risk. When the pair are introduced by Max's roommate, teacher/activist Kia (T. Wendy McMillan), Max isn't interested in Ely, whose long hair, hippie accoutrements, and fondness for decaffeinated herbal tea don't impress the younger, more fashion-conscious woman. Soon, though, fate, friends, and Ely's butch new hairstyle conspire to push the women closer together. As this new romance inches along, the pair's friends have problems of their own: Kia must help her closeted girlfriend, Evy (Migdalia Melendez), come to grips with the disapproval of her conservative Latina mother, while their pal Daria (Anastasia Sharp) incurs the disapproval of the lesbian community for her decision to sleep with a man. Filmed in black and white on-location in Chicago, Go Fish features a number of non-standard narrative devices, most notably the Greek chorus, or "jury," of lesbians who comment on not only the plot, but also the political and social ramifications thereof. Shown in competition at Sundance in 1994, Go Fish went on to earn critical and commercial success and establish the careers of director Rose Troche and actress Turner, who together co-wrote and co-produced the picture. Turner would appear in several additional indies and co-write the script for American Psycho, while Troche would go on to helm 1998's Bedrooms & Hallways. ~ Brian J. Dillard, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

A better screenplay than film by Saroz February 25, 2005 - 5:21 PM PST
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
To my mind, independent lesbian films almost usually fall into one of two categories: the coming-out story (which is, of course, going to be relevant to almost all of the intended audience), and the somewhat harsher look at the social, political, and familial ramifications of being a gay woman (definitely relevant). "Go Fish" eschews both of these traditions, while still occasionally playing them tribute.

It looks like an independent film, and it feels like an independent film, but it's smarter than it first appears. The script is very quick, balancing what is really a romantic comedy with darker, more substantial undertones, including some of the "what does it mean to be a lesbian?" questions I alluded to above. It functions almost like a classic Greek play, with the very best moments being played as an aside to the action, through the conceit of the chorus (which I kept thinking of as the "lesbian brains trust"). This would probably be a great stage play, and credit must go to Rose Troche and Guinevere Turner for making something so fresh out of very traditional roots.

Unfortunately, the acting just about kills "Go Fish" before it even gets out of the gate. With the possible exception of Anastasia Sharp as Daria, only Guinevere Turner seems capable of moving and speaking her lines in a natural, comfortable fashion. Most of the actors seem so stilted, delivering very normal, day-in-the-life dialogue in clipped, nervous tones that are conscious of being watched by a camera. I understand the director probably wanted to save money - indeed, may even have wanted a real-life feel to her work - but I can't think of anything more detrimental to a film like this. While I would probably enjoy sitting and reading the screenplay, I don't think I could watch the whole film again. The performances are just too irritating. Even characters I enjoyed - like T. Wendy McMillan's Kia - began to wear on my nerves by the second half, and that's a bad sign for a film that, without the credits, is barely 80 minutes long.

So, do I recommend you see "Go Fish"? If you're interested in this type of film, then - yes. You should rent and see it once, for sure. It's still worthwhile viewing, but I wish I could give it a heartier recommendation; unfortunately, the only extra on the DVD is the original trailer, so the only reason you have to get the film is the film itself. Just try, if you can, to see the good ideas presented beneath the weak acting. They are about a hundred times more interesting than those in more watchable, slicker films of this sub-genre.

Very Enjoyable by jheltsley July 19, 2004 - 2:09 PM PDT
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful
If you are interested in the minds of lesbian loves, this is the movie for you. You can see, with drama and humor, how the mind of a lesbian works when it comes to sex and relationships. I particularily enjoyed the black woman professor and her sense of humor. Try it, you might just like it.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 5.38)
124 Votes
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