Reel Asian 2023: Our Review of ‘Small Fry’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies by - November 10, 2023
Reel Asian 2023: Our Review of ‘Small Fry’

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.

This post was written by
Born at a very early age, Steve is a Toronto-based writer and podcaster who loves to listen to what matters to our culture on screen. When he first saw Indiana Jones steal the cross of Coronado, he knew his world would never be the same and, since then, he’s found more and more excuses to digest what’s in front of him onscreen. Also, having worked as a youth and community minister for almost 20 years, he learned that stories help everyone engage the world around them. He’s a proud hubby, father (x2) and believes that Citizen Kane, Batman Forever (yes, the Kilmer one), and The Social Network belong in the same conversation. You can hear his ramblings on ScreenFish Radio wherever podcasts are gettable or at his website,
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