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May-Alice Culhane was a successful soap opera star, but a car accident has left her bound to a wheelchair. She returns to her now-empty family home in the bayous of Louisiana which she had eagerly left years before. She drinks heavily and vents her bitterness on the succession of nurses who are hired to take care of her and immediately quit because she is so unbearable. Chantelle is the latest of these nurses, and May-Alice is told that Chantelle is the last nurse she'll get. Chantelle for reasons of her own, is also in a position where she badly needs the job to work out. The movie focuses on how these two women become friends and help each other heal emotionally. Written by
John Sayles gives the viewer a two-second break at the end of every scene in this small, perfectly-acted film. The conversations slow or stop, the action halts, sometimes the screen goes blank. The viewer has a chance to appreciate the scene, think about what just happened, savor the moment. Not every pause happens after something significant -- or was that scene important? Everyone who watches this movie will appreciate something else, I think.
"Passion Fish" is so detailed that there is a wealth of emotional content for the audience. Watch for Alfre Woodard's excitement when she is reunited with her daughter. Was that tiny squeal in her voice just good acting or did we just witness the manifestation of a mother's spontaneous, overwhelming love that happened to take place in front of a rolling camera? And what about the hilarious monologue a soap-opera actress speaks when she related the worst role she ever played, the victim of alien medical experiments in a low-budget sci-fi picture? It has nothing to do with the plot of "Passion Fish," or does it? Maybe it tells of the indignities we all go through to achieve success, love, self-respect.
Can you tell that I really liked this movie?
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