There’s an estimated 20,000 different species that live in the sea, and we’ve probably seen a fair few of them courtesy of the likes of Jacques Cousteau and David Attenborough.
Or if you’re lazy like us, learnt a lot from films, such as Jaws taught us to stay out of the water if you want to keep your legs.
Australian director Robert Connolly gets fishy with his latest, which features one of the lesser represented creatures of our oceans.
Abby (Mia Wasikowska) has always had a fascination with the sea, with living right next to it growing up probably having a lot to do with it. Now grown up, she’s a marine biologist, who studies the deterioration of all life in the sea.
When she hears of her mother’s illness, she returns home to her side, which brings back memories of herself as a teen (Ilsa Fogg), exploring the sea around her which brought her into contact with a remarkable blue Groper. It’s not long before they develop a remarkable relationship, during a time of uncertainty and upheaval with developers keen to make their mark on the land – and sea – whatever the cost.
To say this film stars Wasikowska is a bit of an exaggeration. It’s a film told much in the way of flashback, featuring mostly her younger self, played well by Fogg, living with her activist mother, played by Radha Mitchell. It’s this back story that does most of the heavy lifting, to the point where Wasikowska’s contribution wasn’t really needed.
But the modern section isn’t the film’s only fault. Connolly, who also co-wrote the script, struggles to focus on one element of his storytelling, instead spreading it pretty thin, to encompass the development story, as well as the relationship with her mother and her childhood friends. It also includes a further redundant role, this time for Eric Bana; he plays a charming rogue-like character, who Connolly appears to have no idea what to do with, so he gets rid of him in a completely abrupt fashion.
And then there’s the relationship with the blue Groper, who is presented well enough, looking pretty realistic for a faux fish. The problem is, Gropers just aren’t all that sexy. They look like an XXL version of the dullest fish in anyone’s home aquarium. And compared to aggressive sharks or those cheeky dolphin chappies, it’s the type of fish that ultimately you wouldn’t say no to on your plate, with some steak chips on the side.
So without a strong narrative, and a fish with any personality whatsoever, there’s very little left to Blueback to get excited about. Sure the story of evil developers coming in and killing coral and wildlife and coral is worthy and all that, but just would hit harder in a documentary.
There’s no doubt its heart was in the right place, and it’s pleasantly sunny to look at, but sadly it’s just too on the wishy washy side and far from being the perfect species of its kind.