Fish Tank

"Extraordinary"

Fish Tank Review


Andrea Arnold takes a confident step forward with the follow-up to her acclaimed debut Red Road. This is an almost unnervingly naturalistic look at a teen's life, anchored by a fierce central performance.

Mia (Jarvis) is 15 and lives in a council flat with her peroxide-blonde mum Joanne (Wareing) and her sharp-tongued little sister Tyler (Griffiths). Her only interest is in dance, and she's preparing for an audition that she hopes will get her out of her grim Essex life. In the meantime, she finds herself intrigued by Joanne's latest boyfriend, Connor (Fassbender), although she's not sure if it's as a father figure or something else entirely. And she also decides to free an old horse owned by a neighbour (Treadaway).

Besides the horse metaphor and one gratuitous floating balloon shot, Arnold keeps the film grounded in gritty realism, drawing performances that feel so raw and open that no one appears to be acting. At the centre, Jarvis is revelatory, combining anger with hope in a way we rarely see in teen characters. She lets us see past Mia's bravado to what she's thinking, and what we see is complicated and provocative. Opposite her, Fassbender is also excellent, exuding an intoxicating blend of sexuality and parental concern. And Griffiths offers a sardonic comical counterpoint to each scene ("I like you; I'll kill you last").

Robbie Ryan's crisp cinematography combines with Arnold's skilful direction to get us on Mia's side from the start; we experience every scene from her limited perspective, including telling glances and tiny observational details.

Seemingly innocent events bristle with sensuous longing and a foreshadowing of what might come next. This point of view gives the scenes with Fassbender an outrageous charge that's seductive, sweet and more than a little scary.

And a more overtly frightening scene later on is so intense that we're unable to breathe. We have no idea which direction it will go and feel as off-balance as the characters when things take such an unexpected turn. But even this dark dramatic sequence is beautifully balanced by brittle comedy. Arnold's filmmaking has a sharp intelligence that's reminiscent of the Dardenne brothers, but the difference is that she's not merely observing this girl's life: she's letting us feel what it is to be her.



Fish Tank

Facts and Figures

Run time: 123 mins

In Theaters: Friday 11th September 2009

Box Office USA: $0.2M

Budget: $3M

Distributed by: IFC

Production compaines: BBC Films, UK Film Council, ContentFilm, Kasander Film Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 128 Rotten: 14

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Andrea Arnold

Producer: , Nick Laws

Starring: as Mia Williams, as Connor O'Reily, as Joanne, as Tyler Williams, as Billy, Sarah Bayes as Keeley, Grant Wild as Keeleys Dad, Sydney Mary Nash as Keira, Carrie-Ann Savill as Tyler's Friend, Toyin Ogidi as Tyler's Friend, Charlotte Collins as Tall Dancing Girl, Kirsty Smith as Dancing Girl, Chelsea Chase as Dancing Girl, Brooke Hobby as Dancing Girl, as Billy's Brother

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Advertisement
Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.