1994, R, 87 min. Directed by Rose Troche. Starring Guinevere Turner, V.S. Brodie, T. Wendy McMillan, Migdalia Melendez, Anastasia Sharp.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., July 15, 1994
Love at first sight -- fact or fantasy? Few deny that it occurs, but love's path is rarely that direct and immediate. Falling in love is generally more of a process, something that develops with time and experience. Go Fish is the latest movie to explore this eternal quest, the search for love's holy grail. Certainly not an original topic, Go Fish's novelty lies in its milieu. The movie looks at love and match-making from within the lesbian community. It follows a contemporary group of five friends and their, shall we say, fishing expeditions. This Chicago-set, low-budget, black-and-white, lesbian romantic comedy is a groundbreaking work for both its naturalism and its protagonists. Though the subject matter may be familiar, we have never seen lesbian romance in the movies portrayed quite like this. Most often, we have seen stories of unrequited love, coming out sagas, or frustrating tales of love and desire between lesbians and straight women. But with Go Fish we have a commercial, contemporary lesbian romance that looks and sounds like the world we know and recognize. The character of Max (played by Turner, who also co-wrote and co-produced Go Fish) is in her early twenties and hasn't had a date in nearly a year. Her roommate is college professor Kia (McMillan), who is involved in a torrid relationship with Evy (Melendez), who has just broken off her 10-year marriage to her possessive husband. Evy moves in with Max and Kia after her mother evicts her after discovering her daughter's sexual identity and certain damnation. Daria (Sharp) is a promiscuous trawler who's looking for sex rather than love. Daria's best friend and roommate is Ely (Brodie), a reserved woman who protects herself from involvement by maintaining the feeble pretense of a partner in another city. Kia and Daria connive to fix-up Max and Ely and though the women's initial reactions are less than enchanted, the path of love is often not a direct route. Made on a shoestring and shot largely on weekends over the course of two years, Go Fish is clearly a labor of love. After much of the film was shot, well-known independent producer Christine Vachon (Todd Haynes' Poison and Tom Kalin's Swoon) and Tom Kalin came aboard as executive producers and helped the production process. Using beautiful black-and-white camera work and stimulating narrative techniques, the movie instructs us how to fish or cut bait, while not closing ourselves off to new opportunities. After all, as the saying goes, there are already too many fish in the sea.