Terry and Nick are opposites. And you know what they the famous they say about those kinds of people.
You know, about them attracting and stuff.
For that reason, if for no other, the two young men become fast friends. In the process, they act as the focal characters of the film “Dream With the Fishes.”
Directed by first-time filmmaker Finn Taylor from his own original script, “Dream With the Fishes” is a perfect example of the kind of personal film that won’t necessarily connect with a larger audience.
It’s a low-budget, idiosyncratic effort, marked by debatable artistic decisions involving cinematography and plot points. It features actors who, like David Arquette and Cathy Moriarty, are either barely recognizable or unknown. It boasts nothing resembling a car crash (though it does feature a cool garage burning).
Most of all, though, “Dream With the Fishes” is a personal kind of story told with a sensitivity that, while not exactly Oscar-worthy, does manage to touch on feelings most mainstream films don’t even admit exist.
Terry and Nick meet cute. Terry (Arquette), a lonely guy who spends his life peering at people through binoculars, bursts into a sundry store just as Nick (Brad Hunt) is about to rob it. Next thing you know, Nick is convincing Terry not to jump off a bridge.
But unlike some films, which would soften the characters and their motivations, “Dream With the Fishes” maintains a sense of intensity that is both engaging and authentic. Terry and Nick fight with, manipulate and humiliate each other even as they become friends.
Their key attraction: While Terry wants to kill himself, Nick is dying of an unnamed affliction. Both want to make sure that what time they have left is lived to its utmost.
So they go nude bowling (Nick’s idea) and drop acid, dance on saloon bars and attempt to connect with their pasts - Terry with his dead wife, Nick with his disaffected family.
They learn some new lessons, relearn some old ones, relive a lost of past pain and, ultimately, stumble to some sense of how life works even when it feels like it doesn’t.
The acting helps. Arquette, so good in smaller films such as “Wild Bill” and “johns,” is cast against type as Terry. But he pulls it off. In much the same way, Hunt, in his first big role, shows that he might have what it takes to forge a major career.
Taylor, whose best-known screenplay resulted in the Ted Danson-Mary Steenburgen movie “Pontiac Moon,” has some things to learn about how best to make an effective movie. But his instincts are good.
Certainly no one has to teach him this: that it’s possible to avoid a happy ending even as you’re communicating a message of hope.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: “DREAM WITH THE FISHES” *** Locations: Lincoln Heights Cinemas Credits: Written and directed by Finn Taylor, starring David Arquette, Brad Hunt, Kathryn Erbe, Cathy Moriarty, Patrick McGaw Running time: 1:36 Rating: R