Sitting somewhere between a fictional drama and a documentary, Fish tells the story of a mother-of-three struggling to retain a relationship with the father of her children. Filmed across the space of four years, director Heather Young sensitively looks at the reality of raising three very young children as a single parent.
The lines between real life and fiction are so blurred that it’s easy to believe that this is a documentary. Heart-breaking and unanswered voicemails to the father reveal Robyn’s openness to him being a part of the children’s lives, but she is constantly seen alone. The love for her children is overwhelming, but this is far from being a rosy portrait of a family unit. The struggles with bath time and tidying away toys are relentless, but Robyn just silently ploughs on.
The audience, for the most part, is kept slightly distanced from the action – an observer of the love and chaos, aside from moments where Robyn lies alone in bed, or sits in the bathroom for some peace and quiet. Young manages to show the mother at her most vulnerable, but she never appears weak. It may not be an easy film to watch, but ultimately Fish is a story of love. For all of the tantrums and tears, there are always cuddles and kisses that underline just how desperately sad it is that the father wants no involvement.
Often focusing on central female characters and with a host of short films under her belt already, Young has also just released Milk, looking at the birthing process for cows on a dairy farm through the eyes of their pregnant farmhand. It seems that Young has become incredibly successful in giving often-overlooked women in everyday situations a voice, and Fish is the perfect example of this.
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CAST: Robyn Mendoza
DIRECTOR: Heather Young
SYNOPSIS: A single mother navigates raising three young children while clinging to her fading relationship with their father.