Though filmed before the Covid outbreak, the sci-fi romance is eerily relevant.
In “Little Fish,” fear and paranoia run rampant as a horrible pandemic takes over the globe. While the situation certainly seems familiar for everyone who lived through 2020, it was filmed before Covid — but still got quite a few things right about the last year of our lives.
The non-linear movie revolves around couple Emma (Olivia Cooke) and Jude (Jack O’Connell) trying their best to get through a global outbreak of the fictional Neuroinflammatory Affliction. Acting a bit like Alzheimer’s, those who get NIA have their memories disappear entirely, either all at once or slowly over time. “Little Fish” first debuted at Tribeca Film Festival in April 2020, just after lockdown began all over the world, and is now hitting theaters and VOD this week.
“It just feels weird,” star Olivia Cooke told TooFab about releasing a film about a pandemic while in the middle of one. “There was talk about the film coming out last year and I was like, ‘Oh, this feels too soon. I don’t want people to think we’re capitalizing on COVID even though we had no idea this was about to happen.'”
“Now it just feels like we’re going to be in this forever … if you’ve made a movie, you’ve got to release it at some point,” she added. “So, now we’re here and now I’m talking about a love story set against the backdrop of a global pandemic whilst we’re already in a global pandemic, but I just feel like I’m going to go mad.”
While most of the film is focused on the duo, there are glimpses of the greater world as it grapples with the pandemic. Viewers see those in fear of catching NIA, others experiencing great loss and even some spouting conspiracy theories about the affliction. Cooke said it was weird to see how accurate the film was at capturing the feelings we’ve experienced in the real world over the past year.
“Yeah it was odd, especially with the paranoia of like, ‘Do we have it?'” she explained, before revealing some personal parallels. “The sense of creating a haven within your own four walls because that’s all you’re seeing day in, day out, and this craving for escape and escaping to the country side and to feel nature and going on these walks and to ground yourself within that and take stock of the little things. Yeah, it was really weird to kind of see it back, and recognize all that stuff.”
“When we filmed it, it felt so science fiction and so arty that it just didn’t feel like within my experience whatsoever,” she added.
As for what’s gotten Cooke through her time in lockdown, she credited her “best mates” and her recent move back to London.
“We all grew up together in Manchester and now we’re all a street away from each other, so that’s been really gorgeous and has promoted my longevity mentally, during this time,” she explained. “And also just speaking to my mom and sister constantly, I think it’s kind of bonded us even though we’ve mostly been on FaceTime together. It’s bonded us more than we have been in the past. So, I mean there have been some pros during this time as well.”
Cooke said her costar, Jack O’Connell, actually reminded her a bit of home before she decided to make the move back to the UK after living in the US. She said that she lucked out getting him as her screen partner.
“With independent films it’s a bit of a potluck in terms of who you’re going to get and chemistry, and whether you will get on or whether you’re going to have to really dig into that acting,” she said. “But with Jack, I felt like I’ve known him all my life. He reminded me so much of home. I was living in the states for four years at that point and he reminded me of all the boys I grew up with. So it was just really easy.”
“We had the same points of reference and we were similar age, so we grew up understanding the same stuff and we’re from a similar economic background,” she added. “So, it all just felt really easy. There was a commonality there that was just … yeah, lovely.”
“Little Fish” opens in theaters and on Demand Friday, February 5.