American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each; I do not think that they will sing to me.
- T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
Don't we all know that feeling? That feeling that other people in other places are singing in the sunshine, but here in the shadows of our own miserable existence, the parade has passed us by. It is a key discovery of adult life that almost everyone else feels the same way, too, and that anyone who believes he's leading the parade is either stupid, mistaken or a saint.
Polly (Sheila McCarthy), the heroine of "I've Heard the Mermaids Singing," is a 31-year-old Toronto woman who does not think the mermaids will sing to her. The most important thing in her life is photography, and sometimes she even dreams of the pictures she will take. But no one else has seen her work, and to all outward signs she is a winsome and lonely woman with few skills. Sometimes she gets office work through a temporary agency, but she isn't very good, and so it is with a certain amazement that she finds an employer who actually likes her.