Home MoviesIndie Little Fish (2021) – Review/Summary (with Spoilers)

Little Fish (2021) – Review/Summary (with Spoilers)

by Amari

Little Fish will leave you wondering why all the best romances are constricted by tragedy.

Community Rating: 85.42% (8)


Director(s)Chad Hartigan
Screenplay ByMattson Tomlin
Date Released (Digital Release)2/5/2021
Genre(s)Drama, Romance, Young Adult
Duration1 Hour 41 Minutes
Noted Cast
EmmaOlivia Cooke
JudeJack O’Connell

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text may contain affiliate links, which, if a purchase is made, we’ll earn money or products from the company.

Film Summary

In Emma and Jude’s world, a disease known as NIA (Neuroinflammatory Affliction) has led to many in their 20s and beyond losing their memories. For some, it is in an instant, and for others, their memories slowly slip away. As you can imagine, for a couple in their late 20s, recently married, and who have seen the reaction to waking up to a stranger, both Emma and Jude are terrified. Thus, when a clinical trial begins, they hope for the best and prep for the worst.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: There is cursing and blood.
  • Jump Scares/ Laughs/ Tear-Jerking Moments: N/A
  • It’s not explained how NIA began infecting the population or how it spreads.

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

Cowards like me only text.
— Emma

When your disaster is everyone’s disaster, how do you grieve?
— Emma

How to build a future if you keep having to rebuilt the past?
— Emma

Cast & Characters

Please Note: This is not an exhaustive list of every cast member.


Emma (Olivia Cooke) on the beach

Emma (Olivia Cooke)

28-year-old Emma is a veterinarian, originally from England, who moved to King County (assumingly in Washington State). There she was just having fun with the Americans, not necessarily looking for love when Jude came into her life and became someone she never wanted to leave.


Before Emma, Jude was a wild boy. He was a photographer and sound engineer for his friend’s band and partook in the drugs they took until he decided to get clean. Years later, he meets Emma, and she becomes his favorite subject to photograph.



The Intimacy

Despite being unrated, this isn’t a film that holds anything sensational or explicit. It really is a love story and focuses on honoring and cherishing your memories with a person. Especially when it isn’t clear how much longer you may have the building blocks to your relationship and the other person. And with that in mind, you can almost see, as Jude’s memory gets worse, Emma trying to replace the lost memories with new ones just as fast.

For example, in a scene that really drives home how this film wants to solely focus on intimacy more than anything else, there is a bathtub scene between Emma and Jude, which is just about sharing a moment. Jude looks at her legs, ankles, and feet, almost like he is rediscovering her body, and then notices a tattoo. Upon realizing he has a matching tattoo, the pleasure she has in him being shocked he has the same one is adorable.

Leading to this vibe that you’re watching something similar to The Notebook, as you see Emma reliving moments, in new ways, with Jude, as well as see the original memory as she remembers it.

Both Leads Get Developed

In the film, there is equal development between female and male characters. This still feels strange for romance films, yet the way things are going, this won’t be a highlight anymore. But, since we aren’t there yet, we highlight it for Little Fish because it makes you realize what both sides are losing as memories are lost.

Jude (Jack O'Connell) smiling

Jude (Jack O’Connell)

For what you may develop is a sense of envy, for Jude and Emma’s relationship is that cute. Granted, it does have issues at times, like her borderline cheating on someone else to be with Jude, but then the old situation is over, and we can go full steam ahead. We can see Emma loves animals but hate the fact she spends more time killing them than treating them. You can also see Jude loving taking shots of his musician friends, Emma, and you feel that, with photography being his core, it might be the one thing he doesn’t forget.

And as those memories slip, you start to become as desperate as Emma. For with you both invested in her and her relationship, you are torn between hoping she stays and weathers the storm as feel that maybe she should just cherish the memories she has, and perhaps take some time to heal and love someone else?


Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)Recommended

While we are missing the detail on how NIA began and why so many were inflicted, it doesn’t take away from the core relationship that gets you heavily invested. For with Cooke being the queen of the intriguing romantic lead and O’Connell still having that charm that has made him one of Skins’ greatest breakouts, this is definitely worth seeing and a film we recommend.

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Movie Directory

An old school film reel drawn by artist Dean Nelson.


  • Recommended: Some of the best seen movies we have ever watched and mentioned to friends, family, and strangers as films that need to be seen.
  • Positive (Worth Seeing): Whether you’ll have to go to the movies, download or stream, movies of this category are worth your time and money with few, if any, qualms from us.
  • Mixed (Divisive): Due to this movie having a few quirks, of which may work for some and for others be a problem, we believe your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your taste.
  • Negative (Acquired Taste): While one or two elements kept us going until the end, unfortunately, we’re of the opinion this film never reached the potential it was marketed to have.

Streaming Tags

Special Categories/ Tags

  • Indie: By our definition, independent films are films you have to seek to find due to limited availability or lack of a marketing push.
  • Film Festival: Featured in this tag are films and shorts which were discovered thanks to various film festivals, so some of the productions may not have wide availability but still may deserve to be on your watch.
  • Shorts: Be it ten or fifteen minutes, or a half-hour, these quick teases or films get right to the point, often show the potential of filmmakers and the actors who have joined them in their journey.

Little Fish Ending (Spoilers)

The reason Emma keeps saying she was sad the day she met Jude may not have been due to having to put another dog to sleep. In how Little Fish ends, it is implied Emma is at the beginning of losing her memories, and despite a fight with Jude moments ago, she has forgotten him and even their dog Blue. And with her flipping out due to Jude forgetting her, he goes for help, thinking she is crazy. Yet, it seems no sooner than he walks away, he forgets her again.

Emma (Olivia Cooke) saying her often repeated line of being sad the day she met Jude

Emma (Olivia Cooke): I was so sad the day I met you.

Now, based on how the film begins, you’re led to believe the beginning of the film is right after how the movie ends. So when you see Emma on the beach, looking up, exasperated, maybe confused, and then Blue walks up, this is after Jude has forgotten Emma, and Emma has forgotten Blue and Jude. Yet, to prove their love is so powerful even a neurological disease can’t end their relationship, he follows Blue to Emma, and while their old memories might be long gone, an eternal interest remains to make new ones.

Does Little Fish Have Prequel/ Sequel Potential?

With Little Fish covering the whole relationship, could it get a sequel? Yes, but how many times would you want to watch Emma and Jude fall in love and then forget one another? Never mind it isn’t just faces, names, and shared memories you forget, people forget how to drive, fly planes, and sometimes get stuck in what they’re doing for they forgot how to stop. So Little Fish ends at the point where things are about to become a tragedy when you think of it. Even if there is the possibility for a cure.


The Intimacy - 87%
Both Leads Get Developed - 85%


with Cooke being the queen of the intriguing romantic lead and O'Connell still having that charm that has made him one of Skins' greatest breakouts, this is definitely worth seeing and a film we recommend.

What Would Your Rating Be?

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1 comment

François April 24, 2021 - 6:42 AM

I was wondering what was the timeline of the narration, as she said “I was so sad the day I met you”, she refers to their second meeting (after they both forget), the first one was in a swimming pool. So the narration takes place after she forgot.
So is she reading notes when she narrates? Is she cured when she narrates ?


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