A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
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
Katie Jarvis, who plays Mia, had never acted before this film. A casting director spotted her having a fight with her boyfriend at a train station and offered her the role. 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 »
[Mia calls Keeley using a cellphone]
[from an answering machine]
Hey, it's Keeley. Leave me a message.
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.
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Impacting, gritty and very well made even if it is a little bit longer than the material can bear
Considering how much positive word of mouth it got, Fish Tank came and went pretty sharpish in most cinemas even those in a larger city such as where I live. This was a shame as it meant I had to keep an eye out to eventually catch the film. Set on a council estate things are typically grim and within the first few minutes of the film we are treated to sudden violence and extreme language all seemingly par for the course rather than being something special that we are witnessing. In this world lives Mia, a 15 year old who lives with a younger sister and a mother who appears to be not much older than her. She gets in fights and practises dancing by herself in an abandoned flat near her own. Her life appears to change for the better when her mother gets a new boyfriend who is friendly, good fun and is not put off by the sudden aggression that is the signature of life in the family home.
Writer/director Arnold quite impressed me with Wasp a few years ago and she stayed in my memory thanks partly to her shabby treatment at the Oscars (where, as the winner of her category, she had to receive the award in the aisle and do her speech from there no stage for her), however Fish Tank she stays in my mind on the basis of her film-making ability. Fish Tank is not a perfect film but there is a lot to praise it for. Social-realism is nothing new but Arnold really hits the nail on the head from the start and delivers a simple slice of life that is played in the silences as much as it is in dialogue. There is a downside to this and it is one that most viewers will struggle to ignore the running time. At two hours the film is just about 20 minutes or so longer than it can bear and, in all the silences, there are frequent areas that feel like dips.
This is a minor thing though because the silences depend on the quality of the direction and of the performances both of which are excellent. Arnold's use of the camera is great not only in terms of framing shots but also in terms of movement as this is not a static one shot type of film. The best example of what I mean can be seen in the scene where Mia shows off her dancing for Connor, the camera is close to convey the small room to the audience but it is also delivered with such tension that you can feel what is happening as much as dread it happening. Of course the performances are key in making this type of thing work and everyone is great. In particular Jarvis is brilliantly convincing most people can do the accent and the swagger but she captures the heart of the character, letting the viewer see it even while keeping it below layer after layer of defence mechanism. She is by far the star of the film and she makes it look easy. Wareing, Fassbender and a few others are all good in support but it is always support.
The plot of the film is slight in a way but at the same time with the direction and the performances as good as they are there is always something going on and, as much as I would have liked it a little shorter, I would be at a loss to say what to cut out to make it that way. Fish Tank ends up as a very engaging and gritty drama thanks to Arnold's direction and Jarvis' very strong performance, it mostly avoids cliché and predictable plotting and the cold grey atmosphere of the whole film makes for a distinctive product. A great British film and very well worth seeing how BAFTA managed to miss Arnold and Jarvis this year is a mystery to me.
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