Shot in black and white on a shoestring budget, Go Fish concerns the love lives of Gen X lesbians around Chicago’s Wicker Park. Tossing this rare flower into a summer overrun with choking Hollywood stinkweeds seems like a box-office death wish. But don’t kiss off director Rose Troche’s smart and funny debut film just yet. It’s too sexually rowdy and sharply observant to dismiss as an arty attempt at gay agitprop.
“Yikes, they’re dykes,” said one non-PC member of the audience to his friends early into a screening at the Sundance Film Festival, where Go Fish surprised and delighted a lot of people. Yikes, they are dykes, which is why Troche’s film may seem revolutionary in some quarters. Most gay films deal with the trauma of coming out. The characters in this lesbian dating game are happily adjusted, if sometimes mismatched.
Everyone wants to find the right woman for Max, a headstrong writer incisively played by Guinevere Turner, who co-wrote the script with Troche. Kia (T. Wendy McMillan), Max’s college-prof friend, wants to set her up with Ely (V.S. Brodie), a shy vet’s assistant clinging to a long-distance relationship. Evy (Migdalia Melendez), Kia’s divorced lover, and Daria (Anastasia Sharp), Ely’s horny roommate, also conspire to help.
Troche brings an engagingly light touch to material that ranges from negotiating girl bars to maintaining friendships. But it’s the humor and poignancy in the growing relationship between Max and Ely, who cuts off her dowdy hair to look hip, that sticks in the memory. The sweet eroticism of their first date is a highlight, as is the bawdy follow-up discussion, with each friend demanding details. Troche triumphs by striking a universal chord without compromising her subject. She’s a talent to watch.