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Fish Tank (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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British director Andrea Arnold (Red Road) won the Cannes Jury Prize for the searing and invigorating FISH TANK, about a fifteen-year-old girl, Mia (electrifying newcomer Katie Jarvis), who lives with her mother and sister in the depressed housing projects of Essex. Mia�s adolescent conflicts and emerging sexuality reach boiling points when her mother�s new boyfriend (a lethally attractive Michael Fassbender [Hunger, Inglourious Basterds]) enters the picture. In her young career, Arnold has already proven herself to be a master of social realism (evoking the work of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach), investing her sympathetic portraits of dead-end lives with a poetic, earthy sensibility all her own. FISH TANK heralds the official arrival of a major new filmmaker.
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Top Customer Reviews
The film is not for everyone but if you like naturalistic acting and a gritty (often dreary) story you would be well served to track down this film. It is a film of in-your-face close-ups and the 4:3 aspect ratio was a perfect choice for this style. A wider frame would have diminished the intensity while adding nothing.
What Arnold does better than any director I can think of is her acting-for-the-camera direction of young actresses. This was certainly true with the three children in "Wasp", who seemed to effortlessly give Arnold just the underplayed performances she needed. In "Fish Tank" she gently guides Jarvis toward a performance full of gritty authenticity. And she scores again with Rebecca Griffith's tragicomic portrayal of little sister Tyler (with lines as funny as they are poignant).
Griffith's character is especially important because at its core this is a story of free will vs destiny. And Mia must recognize her destiny if she is to change it. This recognition comes with the death of the Irish Traveler horse (symbolized by the chain and concrete block that once constrained it) and with the realization that she and her "chip-off-the-same-block" younger sister are the same person at different stages; traveling the same road to an inevitable nothing. This motivates her to break out of the rut into which she was born, a track where one is distracted by superficial false hopes from seeking real opportunity. Her new road may end badly but she has nothing to lose.
Another nicely directed naturalistic performance is turned in by Sydney Mary Nash as Keira. Her scenes are probably the best in the film, they certainly were the most difficult.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
She's a young girl who doesn't go to school, though she should.
She dreams of being a hip hop dancer, but really isn't very good.
Her mom has a man-friend over who stays for a while.
The man-friend becomes like a father-figure to her, and an escape of her miserable life.
She nearly gets raped, and then befriends one of her would-be rapists.
Her dreams of becoming a dancer lands her an audition which turns out to be for strippers. So that sucks.
She sleeps with her moms man-friend even though she's underage and he's evidently married and has a kid elsewhere. She tracks him down when he leaves, and nearly kills his kid. He hits her.
She is threatened with being shipped off to a reform school, and runs away with her would-be rapist. Leaving her mother and little sister to whatever fate has in store.
Boring, and a strain to watch. Acting is fine, but the story just aches with misery and with very little unique aspects to set it apart. Sadly I would not recommend it unless you were considerably bored.
"A mother and daughter find themselves locked in an ugly battle over the same man in this drama from writer and director Andrea Arnold. Mia Williams (Katie Jarvis) is 15 years old and lives in a shabby apartment block with her mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), and younger sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths). Mia is a reckless and rebellious teenager who frequently argues with her mother and sister and has run afoul of the authorities at school, leading to her being suspended. With plenty of time on her hands, Mia spends her days drinking when she can find alcohol and partying in a empty flat near her apartment. Joanne is a single mother, and she's begun dating a new man, Connor (Michael Fassbender); when Joanne brings him home to meet the girls, Mia is immediately attracted to him, and it's soon clear Connor feels the same way about her. Mia attempts to seduce Connor to take him away from her mother, and when she succeeds, Joanne's greatest anger is not with the man who has slept with her underaged daughter, but the girl who is now a rival for the affections of her lover."
The film won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2009, and Andrea Arnold has followed it up with 2 other outstanding movies. This is a must have for your movie collection, and bluray is absolutely beautiful.