Dream with the Fishes

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Andrea Chase

"Dream with the Fishes" is a bizarre, metaphysical black comedy about the difference between merely being alive and really living. This buddy flick about male bonding between the unlikeliest of candidates celebrates the absurd while never sacrificing its intelligence.

The film opens with Terry, a nebbish living a life of quiet desperation, about to jump off a bridge. Enter Nick, a bad boy with a voracious appetite for life but, alas, only a few weeks to live. What follows is some wickedly clever dialogue by writer/director Finn Taylor in which Nick talks Terry out of suicide by pretending to help him do it. But that's only a warm-up for the off-kilter delights to follow as these two embark on what might be a final vacation for both of them.

It's a rocky relationship from the get go, but there's an irresistible attraction. Terry, who can't even dream up a decent fantasy, is morbidly fascinated by Nick's drugged-out, living-on-the-edge style. As for Nick, he sees a final project in turning around the life of someone who's in even worse shape that he is. Since Terry can't come up with any of his own, Nick supplies the perverse and liberating fantasies. How liberating? How perverse? Two words. Nude bowling.

As good as the writing is, it's the acting that sends this film into the stratosphere. David Arquette plays Terry with a bad haircut and the body language of a bunny rabbit. Brad Hunt's Nick is goofy yet oozes intensity about having a seriously good time until the end. Then there's Cathy Moriarity, who almost steals the film as Nick's earthy Aunt Elise, the ex-stripper. She's a kimono-clad force of nature surrounded by the tassels and sequins of her heyday. And that gravelly voice is nothing but aural sex.

By the end of "Dream with the Fishes," we've learned the real meaning of friendship, the names of all seven dwarves, and we've stayed surprised until the very last frame of film has threaded through the projector.

© 1997 Andrea Chase Air Date: 7/9/97

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