Archive for September 16th, 2009

Fish Tank

Mia (newcomer Katie Jarvis) is a fifteen year old living in a grim high-rise flat with her mother and younger sister on the edge of London, possibly even on the edge of society. A rebellious and angry loner she has been excluded from school and appears to only be happy when dancing (alone) in an empty apartment and drinking cheep cider. This could be a seriously depressing film but it actually isn’t. Mia’s life changes when she encounters Connor (Michael Fassbender) her mothers new boyfriend who takes an interest in her and her sister, not just the mother. At times the film is uncomfortable to watch, as a viewer you never know exactly where it is going, are Connor’s intentions are honourable or more sinister? Are we viewing sexual tension or just two people who don’t know how to interact with each other? You will have to watch the film to find out.

fish tank

It would be very easy to label the characters in the film and comment on out of control kids or bad parents but in some ways the film transcends this and is about people giving it greater relevance and interest. The film is far more bright and vibrant than director Andrea Arnold’s other feature Red Road, She even occasionally finds beauty in ugly urban landscapes and totally benign settings. The framing is often unusual contracting to an almost square screen but the use of light is truly amazing. The story is sometimes sad and often grim but it always feels real, amongst all this it is also inexplicably uplifting and finishes with a glimmer of hope. One of the great strengths of the film is the acting particularly Jarvis who is the centre of the film, everything revolves around her and she is in virtually every scene. This is a lot for a newcomer to carry but Katie Jarvis does extremely well, she is completely natural and at ease with her character. With no acting experience she was discovered by the director who spotted her having a heated argument with her boyfriend.

I don’t expect this film to last long at the cinema so go and see it while you can. For North American readers there is one more (of three) chances to see a public screening at TIFF (Toronto international film festival) it is on at: Isabel Bader Theatre on Saturday 19th September. There isn’t an American or Canadian release yet but there hopefully will be later in the year or early next year.  Look out for it!

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