In PASSION FISH, a black nurse with a secret past accepts a job as a caretaker for a soap opera actress-turned-paraplegic. The story begins with May-Alice, a daytime soap opera star rendered suddenly paraplegic in a freak traffic accident. Sarcastic and self-absorbed, May-Alice is uncooperative with everyone and sits in front of the TV all day, sipping wine and flipping the remote control. However, May-Alice’s life changes when an employment agency sends Chantelle, a quiet but efficient black nurse’s aide. For reasons revealed later, Chantelle must preserve her job at all cost, even if it means squaring off against May-Alice’s malignant attitudes and terminal laziness. As it turns out, Chantelle can return her patient’s nasty remarks with surprising finesse, like a tennis pro lobbing back vicious serves, and gradually, a friendship develops between the two.
Overall, the movie deals with the characters’ grinding efforts to gain freedom from laziness, bitterness and alcohol addiction, and is articulated with uncommon eloquence and understatement in John Sayle’s exceptional screenplay. While comparisons are inevitable, this story is definitely not DRIVING MISS DAISY. The flaws of PASSION FISH include rough language, implied fornication and a negative reference to Christianity. Overall, PASSION FISH is a flawed film, but one with outstanding performances and some brilliant (yet, at times, wrong headed) writing.
(LLL, S, Ab, A/D) 40 obscenities & 3 profanities; implied fornication, crude references to urination & genitals, & potential adultery viewed favorably; brief negative references Christian faith; and, guzzling beer & wine.