to view trailer
Idealistic, head-in-the-clouds musician Leeward (Dustin Guy Defa, last seen in Alex Karpovsky’s Red Flag
, SFJFF 2013) and his overworked, breadwinner wife Mary share a tiny New York apartment where amid jam sessions on tricked-out toy instruments and a steady stream of visitors they raise their three-year-old daughter Maggie (or Rainbow, depending on which parent is talking). When aspiring young French artist Lilas turns up after a breakup to crash on their couch, the couple’s ideological conflict between art and commerce comes into sharper focus. Her visa about to expire, Lilas dreads returning to Paris and her larger-than-life mother, an internationally acclaimed painter. Much to Mary’s chagrin, the winsome Lilas strikes a resounding chord with at-sea Leeward, and she spurs him to fulfill his dreams, while pursuing her own.
Writer/directors Ruben Amar and Lola Bessis’s first feature (and her striking acting debut as Lilas) is a heartfelt film about the struggle between creative exploration and responsible adulthood. With its intimate, low-fi cinematography, improvised dialogue and the quirky tunes of musicians Toys and Tiny Instruments standing in for Leeward’s one-man band, Swim Little Fish Swim
has echoes of Once
, Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture
and John Cassavetes’ Shadows
. The result is a fresh, modern take on New York City’s vibrant world through the eyes of two talented emerging filmmakers.-Alissa Chadburn