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Passion Fish (1992)

R | | Drama | 11 December 1992 (USA)
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After an accident leaves her a paraplegic, a former soap opera star struggles to recover both emotionally and mentally, until she meets her newest nurse, who has struggles of her own.

Director:

John Sayles

Writer:

John Sayles
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mary McDonnell ... May-Alice Culhane
Angela Bassett ... Rhonda / Dawn
Lenore Banks ... Nurse Quick
Will Mahoney Will Mahoney ... Max
Nelle Stokes Nelle Stokes ... Therapist #1
Brett Ardoin Brett Ardoin ... Therapist #2
Michael Mantell ... Dr. Kline
Daniel Dupont ... Therapist #3
Chuck Cain Chuck Cain ... Attendant
Shana Ledet Qualls Shana Ledet Qualls ... Fan #1
Paula Lafleur Paula Lafleur ... Fan #2
Maggie Renzi Maggie Renzi ... Louise
Marianne Muellerleile ... Drushka
Victoria Edwards Victoria Edwards ... Jessica
Amanda Carlin ... Perky
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Storyline

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 Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Miramax

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 December 1992 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Louisiana Project See more »

Filming Locations:

Elton, Louisiana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,330,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$5,414,619
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Atchafalaya See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (DuArt)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The picture was nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for two Golden Globe Awards in 1992, for Best Actress - Drama (Mary McDonnell) and Best Supporting Actress (Alfre Woodard) - but failed to win a Globe in either category. See more »

Goofs

Rennie's bass turned into a catfish when he opened it up for the passion fish. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Scarlet: [seeing herself in the soap opera] It felt so strange. All I remember is that I wasn't happy. Was I?
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 65th Annual Academy Awards (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

La Danse De Mardi Gras
Trad/Arranged by The Balfa Brothers
Flat Town Music/BMI
Performed by The Balfa Brothers
Swallow Records, used by permission
See more »

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User Reviews

 
John Sayles a genius? Look no further.
4 March 2004 | by DavidSee all my reviews

It's regularly noted that director John Sayles is a master at creating detailed characters; this film (like especially his earlier MATEWAN) proves his genius at capturing the oft-overlooked variety of American life: dialects, and the smallest (but most meaningful) moments of work, anger, tragedy, or sweetness. This skill was surely refined during his earlier years as a novelist, and - in maturity - makes his work (and this film in particular) far more human and gimmick-free than Amer-indie contemporaries like David Lynch or Jim Jarmusch.

I first saw this when it was released, and was very impressed (it was the first Sayles film I'd seen), and after a much-belated second viewing, I'd say it's one of the great American films of the 90s. Sayles' feel for detail shows continually - the small, but continual bits of personal history revealed about all of the characters throughout; the intricacy of even incidental encounters (an afternoon of zydeco music, or the COOLEY HIGH reference that slips quickly between Angela Bassett and Alfre Woodard) is stunning.

Evoking Robert Flaherty's LOUISIANA STORY, the boat-trip-to-Misere scene is particularly memorable, with well-deployed Cajun lore blending with very memorable cinematography (courtesy Roger Deakins, cinematographer for FARGO, KUNDUN, SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION & SID AND NANCY, among other recent classics) to create one of the most unforgettable moments of Sayles' career.

As most of the primary characters are either outsiders, or are returning after long absences, the common problem of show-biz fake accents is avoided nicely - Sayles (and Deakins) manage to capture an image of rural Louisiana that is enveloping and authentic, while never forgetting the reality that accents will vary widely even in local areas. Thus the fact that many characters refuse to lay on the drawl - even as many others in the film nail the sound of rural Louisiana perfectly - only makes PASSION FISH stronger.

Overall this is a tale of growth and friendship that moves with the speed and emotions of life - none of it feels fake or forced, and though slow-to-start (another strength, though only seen as one by the film's end), PASSION FISH quietly develops into something unique and great. At every moment where this could've degenerated into movie-of-the-week sap, Sayles instead elegantly and confidently steers the film into DeSica (or Woody Guthrie and Steinbeck) territory: there's not a sour note to be seen here.


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