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Passion Fish Movie Review

chantelle john alice sayles

Passion Fish is an example of what John Sayles can do without a net, the net being all the stuff people think they want to see in a movie. It's like falling in love with someone who isn't your type. If you care about someone, what the heck does your so-called type matter? May-Alice used to be a soap opera star on television, but while on the way to a leg waxing in Manhattan, she was in an accident with a cab and the lower half of her body became paralyzed. So May-Alice (Mary McDonnell) becomes a Louisiana recluse, chain-drinking and chain-watching the telly until Nurse Chantelle (Alfre Woodard) arrives on the scene. Chantelle tosses the liquor, determined to make good on this job so that she can prove she's worthy of her daughter's custody. (There's drug addiction in Chantelle's past.) May-Alice starts getting interested in old flame Rennie (David Straithairn) again, and Chantelle has a glint in her eye for Sugar LeDoux (Vondie Curtis-Hall). The fact that these guys have 15 kids between them is academic, considering the rarefied life that May-Alice and Chantelle are leading. Both deliver exceptional performances, and Sayles’ gentle, easy-going script and direction open a viewer's heart just as the onscreen characters are trying to open theirs.

1992 (R) 136m/C Mary McDonnell, Alfre Woodard, David Strathairn, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Nora Dunn, Sheila Kelley, Angela Bassett, Mary Portser, Maggie Renzi, Leo Burmester, Shauntisa Willis, John Henry, Michael Laskin; D: John Sayles; W: John Sayles; C: Roger Deakins; M: Mason Daring. Independent Spirit Awards ‘93: Best Supporting Actress (Woodard); Nominations: Academy Awards ‘92: Best Actress (McDonnell), Best Original Screenplay. VHS, LV, Letterbox, Closed Caption, DVD

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