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SOMETHING FISHY

France, 1993 (MIFF 1994)

Director: Tonie Marshall

Maxime is a 40-year-old three-pack-a-day Parisian gumshoe whose personal life is as loose fitting as her wardrobe. Freewheeling, tough and independent, she travels solo with the odd sojourn in the sack with various young men and occasionally women. But her (low) lifestyle without strings runs into her rather over populated past when working an insurance fraud angle. Maxime has to juggle principles, ethics, justice, morality and perhaps for the first time in her life, emotions.

French comedian Anemone plays the private eye at the centre of writer/director Tonie Marshall's dryly humorous cinematic storm. In most stories the hard-boiled bachelor is always a man with the women waiting in the romantic wings. In Something Fishy (or the more appropriate French title, Pas Tres Catholique) Marshall turns the tables and allows Anemone (France's equivalent to the early, gutsy Bette Midler) to revel in Maxime's hard bitten, slobby demeanour and ballsy putdowns. Deliberately unmade up and unglamorous her strikingly raw and dynamic 'lived in' performance sets the film far apart from the high gloss of most French cinema and launches the film into the seldom charted terrain of the older single woman. Anemone (for whom Marshall specifically wrote the character) is astoundingly three-dimensional and makes Maxime's story so moving that it is a testament to her craft. Life may be tough but so is Maxime. They were made for each other.

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