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Fish Tank

New from the director of "Red Road"

In the claustrophobic flats which incubate family dysfunction and rage, and the wild beautiful spaces thereabouts where the urban sprawls out into the country, filmmaker Andrea Arnold finds a powerful story of betrayed love. Fish Tank is a powerfully acted drama, beautifully photographed by cinematographer Robbie Ryan, who intersperses bleak interiors with sudden, gasp-inducing landscapes like something by Turner. Arnold takes elements of tough social-realist drama which are, if not clichés exactly, then certainly familiar – but makes them live again and steers the movie away from miserabilism, driven by a heartfelt central performance. Mia, played by newcomer Katie Jarvis, is a lary 15-year-old who lives with single mum Joanne (Kierston Wareing), her lippy younger sister Tyler (scene-stealer Rebecca Griffiths), and their drolly named dog Tennents. As well as a sincere devotion to cheap supermarket booze, the girls have learned from their mother mannerisms of pre-emptive scorn and rage to cover up perennially hurt feelings. Mia herself is a wannabe dancer, and when she’s trying out some moves in the kitchen one morning, her mother’s new boyfriend ambles in half-naked, looking to put the kettle on. This is handsome, charming Connor, outstandingly played by Michael Fassbender, and he looks at Mia with frank appraisal. ‘You dance like a black,’ he says, ‘...I mean that as a compliment.’ Poor Mia has never had a compliment or any praise in her life and responds with alternating suspicion and fierce, semi-controlled gratitude, especially when Connor behaves like a real dad, taking everyone out for drives in the country. “Of course there is a sexual atmosphere between Connor and Mia, so tropically humid that the ceiling is almost dripping. Mia pretends to be asleep one night so Connor will carry her to bed, and there is an extremely gamey mock-spanking scene, when Connor pretends to ‘discipline’ her. Mia has no idea how to express or manage her huge, unspent reserves of passion: she doesn’t know if she wants a lover, or a father – or just someone to love her unconditionally. Connor is perhaps the man for this. The performances of Jarvis and Fassbender are outstanding and their chemistry fizzes – and then explodes. It is another highly intelligent, involving film from one of the most powerful voices in British cinema. – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
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Directed by: 
Andrea Arnold
Running Time: 
Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, Rebecca Griffiths
Screenplay by: 
Andrea Arnold

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