After a night at the bar, a guy invites a girl home to see his angelﬁsh. Over the course of just a few minutes, a promising connection is cut off and a ﬁsh is no longer a ﬁsh.
Whether you were victimized or the abuser, the line was always very fine between a show of interest and abuse in the dating world, where an egotistic display of power and dominance can easily cross that thin blurry line. Filmmaker Dane McCusker decided to walk on the line in his film ‘Angelfish’ to highlight the appalling behaviours that often lead towards some for of abuse, in hopes to contribute to the conversation about the base of the problem.
The film starts after a night at the bar, where Patrick invites Claire home to see his angelﬁsh. Over the course of just a few minutes, a promising connection is cut off and a ﬁsh is no longer a ﬁsh. A taut exchange that examines acceptable behavior in dating and mating rituals.
This film was actually made as the final project of a post-grad directing program at the Australian Film Television and Radio school in 2016. The exercise was to come up with films that were set in one location, featured only two characters and could be shot in a single 8 hour day. When I was brainstorming, the Brock Turner Stanford sexual assault trial had just blown up in the media. I was really fascinated by the way this particular case was being reported because it was the first time I had seen the mainstream conversation widen to include things like toxic masculinity and rape culture. I saw this as really fertile ground for story but I wasn’t interested in making a film that was explicitly about sexual assault. One, because I felt like it wasn’t my story to tell, and two, because I wasn’t interested in making survivors in the audience relive trauma. I was more interested in examining the very patriarchal assumptions and feelings entitlement underneath the surface that allows sexual assault to happen.