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Fish Tank (2009)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  11 September 2009 (UK)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 44,232 users   Metascore: 81/100
Reviews: 109 user | 243 critic | 31 from

Everything changes for 15-year-old Mia when her mum brings home a new boyfriend.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rebecca Griffiths ...
Sydney Mary Nash ...
Carrie-Ann Savill ...
Tyler's Friend
Toyin Ogidi ...
Tyler's Friend
Grant Wild ...
Keeley's Dad
Sarah Bayes ...
Charlotte Collins ...
Tall Dancing Girl
Kirsty Smith ...
Dancing Girl
Chelsea Chase ...
Dancing Girl
Brooke Hobby ...
Dancing Girl
Billy's Brother


Mia, an aggressive fifteen-year-old girl, lives on an Essex estate with her tarty mother, Joanne, and precocious little sister Tyler. She has been thrown out of school and is awaiting admission to a referrals unit and spends her days aimlessly. She begins an uneasy friendship with Joanne's slick boyfriend, Connor, who encourages her one interest, dancing. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Live, love and give as good as you get.




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

11 September 2009 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Akvarij  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£103,180 (UK) (11 September 2009)


$373,060 (USA) (7 May 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was shot chronologically, and the actors were shown only the part of the script they would be filming the following week - none of them knew what would happen to their characters later in the film. See more »


When Mia takes the alcohol bottle from the woman at one of the parties, it is almost empty. Later, Mia is seen drinking from the bottle in her mother's bedroom and the bottle is half full. See more »


[first lines]
[Mia calls Keeley using a cellphone]
Keeley: [from an answering machine] Hey, it's Keeley. Leave me a message.
Mia: Keeley, it's me. What's going on? I've left like three messages. I said sorry, didn't I? You know what I'm like. I was pissed off. Ring me back, you bitch.
See more »


Featured in The EE British Academy Film Awards (2015) See more »


Me & U
Performed by Cassie Ventura (as Cassie) featuring Sean Combs (as Diddy) & Yung Joc
Written by Ryan Leslie
Published by Aspen Songs
Administered by Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd
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User Reviews

An exhilarating dance of liberation
28 March 2010 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

The poet Rumi said, "A rose's rarest essence lives in the thorn." The thorn is in full evidence in Andrea Arnold's compellingly honest second feature Fish Tank, the story of a fifteen year-old girl's struggle for self respect after having "grown up absurd" in the London projects. Fish Tank, a film that is overflowing with life, works on many levels – as a look into squalid economic and social conditions in small town Britain, as a warning to those who act impulsively and without self-control, and as a coming-of-age story that allows us to experience a genuine sense of character growth. Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, the film features an astounding performance from first-time actress Katie Jarvis, a 17-year-old who was discovered by the director while having an argument with her boyfriend on an Essex train station platform.

Set in a bleak housing project in a working class London suburb, fifteen-year-old Mia is an angry, isolated but vulnerable teen who lives with her boozy mom (Koerston Wareing) and little sister Tyler (an adorable Rebecca Griffiths). Mia has no friends and is dogged by a mean-spirited mother who makes Mo'Nique in Precious look like Mother Teresa. Filled with barely controlled rage, Mia seems uncertain as to whether she is looking for a fight or for sex. She goes from head-butting a rival on the playground to struggling to free a half-starved horse tied up in a junkyard while cozying up to the horse's owner Billy (Harry Treadway), a gentle 19-year-old who seems genuinely interested.

Dreaming of becoming a dancer, Mia breaks into an abandoned apartment and practices her hip-hop dance routines alone to borrowed CDs of pop music including California Dreaming, the only time when she can feel good about herself. Mia's first taste of something resembling kindness happens when her mother brings home a sexy, shirtless Irish lover named Connor (Michael Fassbender) who works as a security guard Fassbender's performance oscillates between the charming and the shady and we do not know who is real and who is pretend and where it will lead. Mia has more than a passing interest in him, revealed by her deep glances and facial expressions.

When Connor lends Mia his camera to film her dancing in preparation for an audition, she uses it to spy on Connor and her mom making love. One of the loveliest scenes is when Connor carries a drunken Mia from the living room and puts her to bed, gently taking off her clothes while Mia, pretending to be asleep, sneaks an occasional peak and is obviously enjoying the moment. Although Connor's interest in Mia appears innocent, from the time Mia cuts her foot on a family fishing trip and Connor gives her a piggy back ride to the car, tension gradually builds until it explodes in a seduction that is not only inappropriate but has serious consequences.

Fish Tank is a strong and unpredictable film because Mia is a strong (though flawed) character who refuses to allow her miserable circumstances to control her life. Arnold uses the fierce slang of the streets, overt sexual encounters, and gritty hand-held camera-work to tell an authentic story of adolescence that in lesser hands might have recycled genre clichés, provided a falsely uplifting message, or offered a sentimentalized view of poverty. That the film opens the door long enough to provide a breath of fresh air once again tells us that life can be governed by what is possible rather than what is reasonable and Fish Tank, instead of becoming another sordid study of pathology, becomes an exhilarating dance of liberation.

62 of 77 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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