Review: ‘Goldfish Memory’

An upbeat Irish "La Ronde" with a gaggle of mainly gay, young and charming singles falling in and out of love with each other, "Goldfish Memory" manages to keep all its brightly colored balls in the air for most of its under-90 minute running time. Cable, particularly outlets aimed at femme auds, seems a probable destination.

An upbeat Irish “La Ronde” with a gaggle of mainly gay, mainly young and mainly charming singles falling in and out of love with each other, “Goldfish Memory” manages to keep all its brightly colored balls in the air for most of its under-90 minute running time. Though characters and situations never veer far from the stereotypic, writer/director Liz Gill’s deft juggling of intertwined stories, evocative glimpses of Dublin and a sure sense of decor keep the action skimming nicely along. With more star power or standout thesping, pic’s intelligent feel-good dynamics might attract limited theatrical play. As is, cable, particularly outlets aimed at femme auds, seems a more probable destination.

According to one character’s pick-up line, people are not unlike goldfish who have a three-second memory and therefore are doomed to forever repeat their mistakes. Script puts that hypothesis to the test as characters change partners till they find the right one or perhaps only the next one. Gill skillfully bestows an identity on a couple quite separate from its two component parts: Though pic follows the same characters through several relationships, each pairing seems unique.

Indeed, the one completely pathetic loser of the bunch, a middle-aged Lothario professor (Sean Campion) is damned less by his habit of hitting on far younger female students than by the fact that he uses the same unvarying time-tested routine on each would-be conquest.

“Goldfish” delights in unexpected pairings that follow convoluted permutations. After breaking up with the prof when she sees him chase another girl, Clara (Fiona Glascott) then has her first lesbian affair with a blonde, thirtyish reporter (Ireland’s “rising star” Flora Montgomery).

Rebelling against the latter’s possessiveness, she hooks up with the girl who replaced her in the prof’s affections (Fiona O’Shaughnessy. The next spin of the bottle finds her matched with a guy at loose ends from yet another plot line.Pic’s relentless cheeriness and need to tie everything up with a big pink bow will probably result in guys being dragged to this chick pic gnashing their teeth. Though Gill nimbly cuts away from situations before they sink in utter treacle, the succession of tender-funny moments would be hard to swallow if Ken Byrne’s lensing were not so riveting.

Besides the luminous footage of Dublin’s streets, rivers and bridges, bars glow with warmth, apartments look welcoming , high-ceilinged libraries and classrooms are bathed in light. Even the most tired of visual cliches are dusted off, gussied up and trotted out good as new.

Goldfish Memory



An Irish Film Board production in association with Goldfish Films. Produced by Breda Walsh. Executive producer, Brendan McCarthy. Directed, written by Liz Gill.


Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Ken Byrne; editor Dermot Diskin; music, Richie Buckley; art director, Madge Linnane; sound (Dolby Digital), Phillippe Faujas; casting, Nuala and Frank Moiselle. Reviewed at Film Fleadh Festival, New York, March 22, 2003. Running time: 88 MIN.


Flora Montgomery, Sean Campion, Fiona Glascott, Keith McErlean, Fiona O'Shaughnessy, Peter Gaynor, Jean Butler.
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