20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Fish Tank (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This film is a rare gem that follows none of the conventional movie tropes. The characters are 3-dimensional; dialog rings true; the story progresses without artifice or resolution or plot holes; and nobody looks or acts like a movie star. [perfect neon white teeth are thankfully absent, which I always find terribly distracting. If there were a nuclear war today, all that would survive would be roaches, and movie star teeth.] The acting is beautifully understated, and there are no histrionics. For example, the relationship between the eldest daughter and the mother is elucidated with small, realistic actions and words. And because of the authenticity of the film, I could give myself over to the film maker and get emotionally involved in the characters.
In most movies, everything is cranked up to the maximum and shoehorned into a contrived plot that strictly follows conventions so as not to upset the audience. Music, emotions, conflicts, events...everything is calculated to manipulate the viewer and bash them over the heard. Stories follow predictable lines with easily identifiable character archetypes. They are written to please audiences. Infact many releases go through a process of test screening to determine which ending is the best one at pleasing audiences, for example the travesty that was I Am Legend. And, of course, frames are populated only by capital 'a' Actors. And as a result, they have all the metaphorical nutrition and satiety of a bag of Doritoes. Of course I like me a bag of cool ranch every now and again, but they don't satisfy like real food.
Fish Tank also avoids what I call the James Joyce syndrome, wherein a work is buried in a mass of symbolism and metaphor, and you have to have a pHd in codebreaking to understand what is being communicated. I am not saying that those types of works are worthless etc, or that it is not worthwhile in watching and thinking about films Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain. But, for me, I cannot get emotionally involved with the characters or engrossed in the story when it is heavily abstracted and symbolic. Moreover, I don't have the educational background in literature and film to be able to do that kind of analysis.
Imo, this is one of the best character driven movies I've seen. I really cannot find fault with anything the director/writer has done in Fish Tank.
As far as the criterion edition goes, it is fantastic. The movie was shot on 35mm film and the blu ray transfer retains much of that wonderful film look. The video portion is an h264/AVC stream that averages 37 Mbps, and so suffers from no visible compression artifacting or degradation. The audio is 5.1 dts-hd. The majority of the audio is dialog or music that is being played on a portable player etc within the story, so most of the audio is in the centre channel. This also lends to the realism as there are no unnatural 5.1 audio effects. All in all a wonderful job by the Criterion people.