Posted: 08/25/2004

 

Fish Without a Bicycle

(2003)

by Del Harvey



If you’re in your late 20’s and are going through the relationship-roulette game, then you’re going to love this fish.


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Aspiring actress Jules (Jenna Mattison—Third Wish, Alex in Wonder) has just auditioned for and one the lead role in a local play. She is smitten with the director (Bryan Callen—Mad TV, Old School), a self-centered, arrogant fellow whose self-confidence seems to overwhelm the lithe young redhead. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but Jules lives with fiancée Danny (Brad Rowe—Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss), a hunky young firefighter. Until her audition, Jules thought she was in love with Danny and only Danny, but one encounter with arrogant director Michael and she’s very confused.

Enter best friend Vicki (Jennifer Blanc—TV’s Party of Five, Third Wish) who suggests Jules stay with her while she figures out what it is she really wants… and “sow some wild oats” while she’s at it. While Jules is deep into her own introspective journey, a small fly in her ear—play co-star Ben (Brian Austin Green—Purgatory Flats, TV’s Resurrection Blvd.)—keeps checking in on her, calling and talking with her whenever the obnoxious director Michael isn’t hanging about, pointing at Jules and saying endearing comments like, “Mine!”

Written by star Jenna Mattison and directed by co-star Brian Green, Fish Without A Bicycle is one of the best indie films I’ve seen in some time. The dialogue is spot on and the direction keeps us focused on the big picture, and not zoomed in on Jules’ self-centered moments. Green’s ability to transfer Mattison’s script to the screen should serve as a study model for aspiring filmmaker’s. There’s nothing much extraneous here; and it’s that modesty in form that holds our interest. In independent films, being a judicious director and film cutter can make all the difference in whether or not a film is worth sitting through. If Fish Without A Bicycle is an accurate example of the filmmaker’s work, then he’s got the concepts of pacing and structure down solid. It should also be said that having a smart, sassy script like Mattison’s is a huge advantage to any filmmaker.

I’ve read some reviews that comment on some of the more colorful aspects of this film, and I can only respond that these critics must either be older than the filmmakers or have not experienced the same sexual freedoms many younger people do. There are scenes where the lead actress swallows another actor’s semen, and another scene where an actress throws a bloody tampon onto the windshield of her ex-lover’s car. It should be said that both of these scenes are handled as tastefully as possible and neither is very graphic at all. Both serve as an example of the surprising situations we often find ourselves in relationships. And both serve as fine examples of the writer’s understanding and perception of the human condition.

True to the script’s witty undercurrent, Fish Without a Bicycle is a play on both a Bono lyric and the Gloria Steinem quote that inspired it: “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” As a story about contemporary twenty-something’s going through difficult relationships, it’s stellar. As an indie project, it’s top notch. I recommend this Fish highly.

Del Harvey is a writer and screenwriting teacher living in Chicago.



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