Passion Fish


Character: May-Alice Culhane

Directed by: John Sayles

Written by: John Sayles

Produced by: Sarah Green, Maggie Renzi

Cast Members: Angela Bassett, Michael Mantell, Alfre Woodard, Vondie Curtis-Hall, David Strathairn,

Released date: December 11, 1992

Genre: Drama

May-Alice Culhane was a successful soap opera star, but a car accident has left her bound to a wheelchair. She returns to her now-empty family home in the bayous of Louisiana which she had eagerly left years before. She drinks heavily and vents her bitterness on the succession of nurses who are hired to take care of her and immediately quit because she is so unbearable. Chantelle is the latest of these nurses, and May-Alice is told that Chantelle is the last nurse she'll get. Chantelle for reasons of her own, is also in a position where she badly needs the job to work out. The movie focuses on how these two women become friends and help each other heal emotionally.

Movie Quotes

May-Alice: Did they tell you I was a bitch?
Chantelle: On wheels.

Drushka: You eat now.
May-Alice Culhane: What exactly is that?
Drushka: Kascha. Big fiber. It’s good for stool.
May-Alice Culhane: Yes. It looks like it has something to do with that.

Chantelle: Are you going to do something to get stronger?
May-Alice Culhane: Why would I want to do that?
Chantelle: Because the next one may not be so nice as me.
May-Alice Culhane: Right. And you’re Florence fuckin’ Nightingale.

May-Alice Culhane: [to her nurse is cleaning] It’s important that we have clean walls. I’ll be climbing them soon.

May-Alice Culhane: I am not ready for this. When I get stronger I will quit drinking.
Chantelle: If you keep drinking you won’t get any stronger.

In Mary’s words…

When I went back to do Passion Fish with him, one of the things I was so excited about was his all-encompassing knowledge of each and every character, and what a gift that is to an actor, to be in the hands of someone who has in his imagination truly lived through the experience of each one. I just love John Sayles. I think he’s one of our greats, and I think he’s an amazing human being. I had two profound experiences with him. Being on the bayou in Louisiana, playing an embittered soap-opera actress in a wheelchair, with mosquito netting between takes at night, doesn’t sound like it’d be a whole lot of fun. But it was a very moving, very compelling and self-revealing opportunity. And I loved every second of it. [from “Mary McDonnell on Battlestar Galactica and going mute in front of Robert Redford” by Will Harris]

Script developed by Never Enough Design