Fish Tank (R16)

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The ViewAuckland Review

Review byMatthew Turner24/06/2009

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 121 mins

Beautifully written, stunningly directed drama with a terrific, breakout performance from newcomer Katie Jarvis – Fish Tank is one of the best films of the year.

What's it all about?
Directed by Andrea Arnold (Red Road), Fish Tank stars newcomer Katie Jarvis as 15-year-old Mia, who's warring with the girls on her estate and doesn't get on with either her constantly partying mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing) or her bratty, foul-mouthed younger sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths). Her only passion is dancing, which she practices in secret in an empty flat, although in a spot of early symbolism she's also obsessed with freeing a hungry-looking horse she encounters tethered to a patch of wasteland.

However, things begin to change for Mia when her mother brings home charming, charismatic new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender). Connor's likeable presence actually begins to draw the family closer together, particularly when he insists on taking them all for a day out. But is he everything that he seems?

The Good
Arnold's directorial style recalls that of the Dardennes Brothers, in that viewers spend the entire movie following one character, semi-documentary style, except that Arnold's camera is subjective, reflecting Mia's inner life – this is especially evident in a heart-stoppingly beautiful scene where Connor carries a pretending-to-be-asleep Mia and puts her to bed. The scene also encapsulates the entire film because, although Mia has clearly fallen for Connor, the audience is constantly trying to decide whether or not he's a wrong 'un.

The Great
Katie Jarvis is nothing short of sensational as Mia - aside from being a great dancer, she's tough, funny, and, at times, genuinely heartbreaking to watch. There's also strong support from the ubiquitous Fassbender (giving an equally extraordinary, complex performance) and from Wareing, while Griffiths steals almost every scene she's in by coming out with some brilliant lines (‘I like you – I'll kill you last’) and Harry Treadaway shines in a low-key role as Mia's ‘pikey’ sort-of boyfriend.

Worth seeing?
Fish Tank is an extraordinary film, from the heart-stoppingly delightful direction to the incredible performances – it's also by turns heart-in-your-mouth suspenseful, laugh-out-loud funny and ultimately, deeply moving. Frankly, it's a masterpiece and, as such, unmissable.

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Fish Tank (R16)
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Content updated: 26/02/2020 20:30

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