We all deal with grief differently. And the funny thing about grief is how we react to it sometimes changes, even when most everything is the same. When my father passed away, I was distraught. My dad was my hero. He taught me right from wrong. I learned how to run a business. How to fish. How to be a man, but yet have empathy. He was my rock through 33 years of my life. It took years for me to be able to even walk into his workshop again without feeling the sense of loss. He was elderly, in a nursing home and was just rundown. He lived a full life, and we all had a chance to say our goodbyes. But still, my heart took years to mend, and still hasn’t fully.
Flash forward to just a couple of years ago. My sister passed away a week after my birthday rather unexpectedly. She was the only sibling I lived with. She taught me about horror movies, introducing me to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, as well as others. She was a few years older than me, and we were close. Never got a chance to say goodbye; however, I miss her in a completely different way than my dad. I don’t tear up at the very mention of her name. When my little girl asks about her, I can talk about her with no issue. It’s only when I visit her grave that I feel sad. It’s just so different.
Fishbowl is a 2018 film from Nashville-based duo Stephen and Alexa Kinigopoulos in their directorial debuts. In the film, Rick Simon (Rick Kain), the patriarch of his family, struggles when his wife, Macy (Judith Hoag), suddenly leaves him and heir three daughters Belle (Belle Schickle), Jessa (Caroline Coleman) and Rachel (Emily Peachey). Dealing with his grief, Rick begins following a televangelist who peddles the idea that the world is going to end on September 19th. Seemingly blindly following him, Rick begins enforcing strict rules on his girls, preventing them from taking part in normal school activities, as well as preventing them from being socially active. In addition, Rick stops paying his bills, removes many of his family’s earthly possessions, and begins forcing Belle, Jessa and Rachel to take part in extreme religious exercises, all in the effort to earn their way into Heaven when the Rapture occurs.
The story of Fishbowl captures not only the trials and tribulations of trying to be a teenager, but also the heartache of dealing with all of this after abruptly losing a key member of your family. The directors keep the fate of Macy a secret throughout the entirety of the film. There are subtle hints along the way, but it is well done in the fact that you never really know for sure what happened until it plays out on screen. No spoilers here. It would be a disservice to Fishbowl.
While Fishbowl focuses a large part of the film on the struggle of the sisters, the evolution of Rick is also deeply moving. The girls love their dad, and truly love him, but begin to feel that he is falling off a cliff, trying to drag them down with him. They do not buy into his “doomsday prophecy” beliefs, but they do follow his authority. And just as they submit to Rick, he in return submits further to the ideology of the televangelist. He truly believes that the world will end on September 29th, and sees the signs of the upcoming Rapture in everything. His grief for his wife leaving broke him. With his foundation cracked, a darkness found its way into his soul. He blindly followed it, and it broke him even further.
As a person struggling with depression since his divorce, I can feel Rick’s pain. Having someone you love deeply, who was your anchor and your counterpart in the family structure leave just hurts. I believe it is very closely tied to the pain felt when losing a parent or close loved one. The relationship you had is gone. Pain takes its place, and all the familiar demons of sadness, self loathing and hate move in as well. But it is times like these we have to learn. We have to be strong. Not only for ourselves, but for those who depend on us, like our kids.
In Fishbowl, Rick lets his sorrow and pain override his judgement. He became selfish. He tried to mask it by saying he wanted to save his kids as well, but that was not the case. He let his pain destroy his family more. He should have been there for his girls. He should have taken their pain onto himself, and shown them how to be strong in times where it is easier to be weak. But he didn’t. And the results speak for themselves.
I give Fishbowl five out of five stars. The story hits home on so many points. It is relatable to anyone who has gone through grief like this. For those who have not, it is a great blueprint of what not to do when it does happen. Be sure to check out this great film soon.