In Small Fry, Ho-jun is a struggling actor who tries to build his following as YouTuber for fans of fishing. As he arrives at his favourite fishing spot, he’s immediately confronted by Director Nam, an obnoxious independent film director who seems frustrated with life and everything in it. Meeting with Nam is Hee-jin, a rising actress who he believes is the next big thing. However, Hee-jin isn’t entirely convinced about Nam’s latest project (or his motives). Seeming trapped together in their fisherman’s bay, Ho-jun, Nam and Hee-jin soon discover that their worlds are more entangled than they realize as they attempt to land the fish (and the fame) that eludes them.
Directed by Joongha Park, Small Fry almost has the sensibilities of a one-act play. Taking place over 24 hours in a fishing facility, these are everyday people who are bound together by their experience, leaving them trapped together by fate.
For each character, fishing becomes a metaphor for waiting for something bigger. Each feel as though they should be more successful than they are and struggle to deal with their feelings of inadequacy in a world of perceived fame and fortune. Although Ho-jun has found success on YouTube, his list of followers is solid but not particularly impressive. Nam and Hee-jin also haven’t achieved what they want.
In this way, like the world of fishing itself, they seem stuck between the now and the ‘not yet’. As the film progresses, the trio attempt to reconcile their dreams with the reality of moderate success. In this way, there’s a certain sense of beauty about the film, as it never judges its characters for their ambition yet never fully supports their dreaming either. Instead, Small Fry sits in the in-between, recognizing that every fish (and person) matters, no matter the size.