Passion Fish

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Passion Fish
Passion Fish.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Sayles
Produced bySarah Green
Maggie Renzi
Screenplay byJohn Sayles
Music byMason Daring
CinematographyRoger Deakins
Edited byJohn Sayles
Distributed byMiramax Films(sold to Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Release date
  • December 11, 1992 (1992-12-11) (United States)
Running time
135 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million[1]
Box office$4,814,619[2]

Passion Fish is a 1992 American film written and directed by John Sayles. The film stars Mary McDonnell, Alfre Woodard, Vondie Curtis-Hall, David Strathairn, Leo Burmester, and Angela Bassett.

It tells the story of a soap opera star, paralyzed after being struck by a taxi, who is forced to return to her family home and rely upon a series of nurses, forcing each of them to leave her employment until one shows up guaranteed to stay.


May-Alice Culhane, a New York daytime actress, lies in a hospital bed, confused and scared because she is unable to sit up. She attempts to press the call button but ends up switching on the TV, which happens to be playing a scene from the soap opera featuring her.

Culhane has been left paralyzed after an accident on her way to getting her legs waxed. With no other options, she returns to her family's old and empty home in Louisiana, where she drinks hard, is unsatisfied with every caregiver, and wallows in self-pity.

Her outlook begins to change with the arrival of Chantelle, a nurse with her own problems. The two gradually find a heartfelt connection with each other, and as a result, their lives subtly change.



On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 100% based on reviews from 25 critics.[3]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 4 out of 4.[4][5]

Box office[edit]

Passion Fish received a limited release on December 9, 1992,[2] running for one week, the minimum required to make it eligible for consideration at the next year's Academy Awards.[5] The film earned $36,332 (14,385 of that in the weekend) in the week from showings in two theaters.[2] After receiving Academy Award nominations in February 1993, the film was released to 191 theaters, where it earned over 99% of its gross of $4.8 million.[6][dead link]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Nominee Result
Academy Awards Best Actress Mary McDonnell Nominated
Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen John Sayles Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Passion Fish Nominated
Ghent International Film Festival Grand Prix John Sayles Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Mary McDonnell Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Alfre Woodard Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Male David Strathairn Nominated
Best Supporting Female Alfre Woodard Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Turkish Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Film Passion Fish 17th Place
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screenplay John Sayles Nominated


  1. ^ Gerry Molyneaux, "John Sayles, Renaissance Books, 2000 p 205
  2. ^ a b c "Passion Fish". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-05-11.
  3. ^ "Passion Fish (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 29, 1993). "Passion Fish". Chicago Sun-Times.
  5. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (1992-12-14). "Passion Fish". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-11.
  6. ^ "Passion Fish". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-05-11. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]