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Terry is a suicidal voyeur who doesn't seem to be able to kill himself. While preparing for jumping off a bridge, he meets Nick who ends up saving his life. Terry discovers that Nick is terminally ill and doesn't have much time left. Scared by the lack of time, Nick offers Terry a deal he can't refuse: Terry will become the beneficiary of Nick's life insurance or, since money doesn't matter to Terry, Nick promises to kill him before he dies. All Nick asks is Terry's help to realize a few fantasies before dying. Written by
What makes Dreams With The Fishes a kinda-special movie? Well, it ain't the acting, which while eminently naturalistic and believable is not going to win anyone any Academy Awards. It ain't the direction, which contains little of note, nor the cinematography, since the film has the look of being shot on a handheld Super 8 (and may well have been, for all I know.) And it's not the overall story, which while interesting enough to ensure one's undivided attention for 90 minutes does not exactly break new ground in any of its various departments (unlikely friendships, voyeurism, terminal disease et al).
I have spent some time in the past putting forward the opinion that movies such as Forrest Gump and Mr Holland's Opus are films which are more than the sum of their parts, which is to say that it is when considered as a whole that their special magic becomes apparent. Dreams With The Fishes, on the other hand, is a movie of scenes, and while they don't amount to much in the final reckoning when viewed individually their impact is undeniable.
The extended sequence where one of the characters decides to assist the other in his suicide bid by leading him from the bridge railing to vitamin-induced delusion. The painful scenes between Terry and his old man, righteously bereft of sentiment but managing to evoke just a little nonetheless. Nude bowling. And, of course, the film's tour de force, a wonderful sequence charting the lead characters' spaced-out LSD odyssey which manages to be both wildly amusing and somehow touching at the same time (and I might add that I would go so far as to draw comparisons between this sequence and the trip scene in Easy Rider for sheer impact. It's that good.) Not only that, but they even manage to sneak a bit of Fisherman's Blues in at the tail end, being only one of my favourite songs but sadly one which far too few people seem to be aware of.
Look, it's like this - Dreams With The Fishes is not going to be in anyone's list of all-time favourite movies, and it's certainly not going to become a cult-classic or anything dumb like that. What it is, though, is a film which provides a few laughs, passes the time easily, and maybe even evokes a few honest emotions in the viewer to boot, and that's more than can be said for Batman and Robin, The Lost World or just about any other of the "blockbusters" to come out of the majors that very same year. And that, folks, is good enough for me.
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