Passion Fish (1992) - Rotten Tomatoes

Passion Fish1992

Passion Fish (1992)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Passion Fish Photos

Movie Info

John Sayles' immediate and unsentimental tale of growing respect and affection between a paraplegic and her straight-talking nurse stars Mary McDonnell as soap-opera actress Mary-Alice Culhane. After an automobile accident, she discovers herself paralyzed in a hospital bed. Sinking into depression, Mary-Alice rages against the other patients and the medical staff. Eager to be rid of her, the doctors allow her to leave the hospital and return to her girlhood home in the Louisiana bayou. Back home, Mary-Alice frightens off a succession of home-care nurses until a young black woman named Chantelle (Alfre Woodard) arrives to give the job a try. Chantelle is as strong-willed as Mary-Alice, and they constantly clash until Mary-Alice begins to soften a bit. Chantelle then discovers Mary-Alice is a recovering drug addict. Since Mary-Alice has sunken into alcoholism under the weight of her paralysis, they form a common link that binds them together. When visitors begin to come around -- particularly Rennie (David Straithairn) for Mary-Alice and local cowboy Sugar LeDoux (Vondie Curtis-Hall) for Chantelle -- the women realize they must learn to overcome their distrust of people and give a little of themselves to get a bit closer.

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Mary McDonnell
as May-Alice Culhane
Alfre Woodard
as Dawn/Rhonda
Angela Bassett
as Dawn/Rhonda
Nora Dunn
as Ti-Marie
Lenore Banks
as Nurse Quick
Nelle Stokes
as 1st Therapist
Brett Ardoin
as 2nd Therapist
Michael Mantell
as Dr. Kline
Daniel Dupont
as Therapist
Chuck Cain
as Attendant
Linda Castle
as Lawanda
Mary Portser
as Precious
Tom Wright
as Luther
John Henry
as Dr. Blades
Michael Laskin
as Redwood Vance
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Critic Reviews for Passion Fish

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (7)

I hope that films that share Passion Fish's politics continue to be made and improved upon. I just hope more directors of color, and female directors of color in particular, get to make them.

January 8, 2021 | Full Review…

This is a tough, muscular story about a headstrong woman who wants things to go her way.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Passion Fish drifts slowly by, like the turgid waters of Louisiana's bayous. Yet with his novelist's eye and story sense, and two brilliantly paired actresses, John Sayles pulls us ever deeper into the lives of a bitter paraplegic actress and her nurse.

May 29, 2018 | Full Review…

A tightly-focused narrative about interior struggles and unexpected changes, the film is a cynical anti-Reagan story about monetary success and class distinctions, a political fable about female survivors.

October 8, 2006 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Compelling film about two women whose spiritual transformation is precipitated by illness.

August 21, 2002 | Full Review…

The picture is sure-footed and accomplished and, to this point, the auteur's most satisfying marriage of head and heart.

July 6, 2002 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Passion Fish

More for the ladies I think. Not that I don't appreciate a good film made for women but I found I couldn't relate terribly well with the characters.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

I really DIDN'T think I was going to like this film, and I ended up REALLY liking it. And if I ever audition for anything, I'm totally using the "I didn't ask for the anal probe" monologue too.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

Its remarkable that a film about a recently crippled woman, who returns to her Louisiana hometown, and is subsequently cared for by a black woman who was a former drug addict never even comes close to being cheesy or feel like a one of those stupid lifetime movies. I owe that to John Sayles who allows the characters to drive the story. Mary McDonnell is one of the most underrated actresses alive and she gives a brilliant performance as the former Soap star who now must cope with life as a paraplegic. Alfre Woodard, who is ironically known for doing a lot of Hallmark movies, is surprisingly restrained as the nurse. The film hardly ever enters cliche' territory. What I really loved was at the end, both characters have grown considerably, but neither one has any real clue about the future.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

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