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Walking Fernando

average rating is 5 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Sep 1, 2023

Film Reviews
Walking Fernando
Directed by:
Max Mir
Written by:
Luke Norton
Javier Bardem, Fabienne Piolini-Castle, Evan Sokol

Everyday we see hundreds of people walking their dogs, getting in their own exercise and that of their four legged friends. Some very strange people even take their cats out on walks, yet you don’t ever see people talking their goldfishes out for a walk down the park. ‘Walking Fernando’ gets over the confines of the fish bowl, and sees a surprisingly touching and meaningful story told through a fish’s walk with his human friend.


Though the concept may seem absurd, ‘Walking Fernando’ is in fact an inspirational tale of breaking free from the monotony of life and enjoying its freedoms. This is only heightened by the absurdity of it all, with the sight of a woman, Nadia (Fabienne Piolini-Castle) confidently striding through the streets of London, talking goldfish in hand, highlighting that life is full of wonders, none of which can be experience cooped up in an office all day. Sometimes it takes an irreverent concept to inspire us, and such is the case with ‘Walking Fernando’, with the films ability to weave irreverence with thoughtful meditations its greatest strength.


The dichotomy between the monotony of everyday office life and the freedom and beauty provided by nature is wonderfully illustrated throughout ‘Walking Fernando’. The opening montage sets the scene of a dull, average day of work, with people mulling around the office, which, rather ironically is that of a travel agency, and the forced polite laughter. This is continued when Nadia’s boss (Evan Sokol) dumps her a massive pile of work just as she’s getting ready to enjoy her weekend plans of doing nothing.


It is this soulless lifestyle of working yourself into tiredness, so that on your days off you are content to simply do nothing, that ‘Walking Fernando’ discourages. Instead, through Fernando the fish, who has the voice of Javier Bardem, both Nadia, and we as an audience, are offered the opportunity to have our horizons broadened by looking for the beauty in nature and the outdoors. Director Max Mir, and writer Luke Norton both understand that in order to truly appreciate beauty and the world around us you must live life to your fullest, and transgress the restraints placed upon us by social expectations. The fish wants to get out of his bowl and does so. Nadia wants to escape from the office and does so. Both are much the more fulfilled. Norton’s script is fairly straightforward, but doesn’t need to be anything special in order to convey its message, while crucially it doesn’t leave any unnecessary fat to be trimmed. Mir’s directing is competent, and particularly strong when walking through London from Fernando’s perspective within his tank, further conveying the fish out of water experience and the euphoria which comes from breaking the everyday routine.


Its always a perk to have Javier Bardem in your film, especially when he gets to play around as a fish (for the second time this year if you include his role as the mermaid King Tritone in ‘The Little Mermaid’) and he is delightful here as the wise beyond his nautical miles Fernando. His voice work, coupled with Fabienne Piolini-Castle’s performance in the central role as Nadia, elevate the screenplay, straightforward as it is, to a higher level, and ensure that its message never becomes too repetitive.


‘Walking Fernando’ may be an irreverent film, with an irreverent Javier Bardem role as the titular fish, but that only strengthens its message and the quality of filmmaking displayed throughout.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
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