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flick pick | Dream with the Fishes 1997
Directed by:
Finn Taylor

David Arquette, Brad Hunt, Kathryn Erbe, Cathy Moriarty
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under:
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:
darkly comic, serious, whimsical

Plot synopsis Terry spends his nights alone in his apartment, peering out of the dark from behind his binoculars at the lives of his neighbors. It’s a sad excuse for a life. When Nick, a risk-taking bad boy who’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness, runs into a suicidal Terry one evening and ends up saving Terry’s life (it doesn’t take much – Terry’s as bad at dying as he is at living), he hasn’t a clue that Terry’s been peeping in on Nick and his girlfriend each evening. But he does know that Terry’s got some money – something he’s sorely lacking – so when the disgruntled Terry (who’s not at all thrilled about having been tricked into prolonging his lonely existence) shows up at Nick's apartment the next day, Nick pitches a proposal: since he’s got just a few more weeks left to live, he’s going to take off on one final fantasy-fulfilling road trip, and he needs Terry to come along to bankroll it. If Terry helps him out, Nick promises that at the end of the trip, he’ll help Terry attain that one thing Terry claims to want: to kill himself. It’s a wild ride, complete with co-ed naked bowling, LSD, and a fair share of self-discovery and buddy-bonding as well.

Review In my mind, David Arquette is that nutty, somewhat obnoxious 1-800-CALL-ATT guy  – I tend to forget that he’s actually an actor. Thankfully, you won’t see a trace of his phone ad persona in his performance as the highly repressed/obsessed and extremely pathetic Terry. Dream with the Fishes represents just what it is that I adore about indie flicks – it’s a small movie that, almost in spite of itself, ends up resonating with a surprising emotional strength. This is derived largely from the impressively subtle character development; the two main characters, who start off pretty equally unlikable and uni-dimensionally self-absorbed, are gradually fleshed out beyond their respective bad boy and lonely man stereotypes. It’s hard to tell a story that explores the values of life and death without banging you over the head with any grand philosophical statements, but Dream with the Fishes accomplishes just that, offering quiet questions and tentative possibilities instead. One of the best things about this movie is that it achieves an optimistic ending without feeling contrived. Heartwarming it’s not, and that’s a compliment. The movie has a quirky, dreamy feel to it that meanders appealingly between cynical dark humor and genuine hopefulness. 


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