Fish Tank


(out of 5)

Andrea Arnold follows up her phenomenal film Red Road with another solid drama about a woman in emotional flux. This time she sets her sights at Mia (), a teenager coming of age under pretty harsh conditions: her single mother, who seems to have had both of her daughters well before she was prepared for them, doesn’t offer a cruel existence but certainly a hard one, while the other girls in the dreary Essex apartment complex in which they live don’t provide much in the way of companionship. Mia’s neighbours are under the spell of the music industry, all of them living their dreams of becoming dance stars out on the pavement in scanty clothes, gyrating their hips to the music on their radios. Our heroine is actually serious about dancing as a career; perpetually a loner, she spends her free time practising her moves in an abandoned apartment in her building. Youthful innocence doesn’t stay intact for long in this world, and trouble is afoot when a handsome stranger ( at his most shit-eating-grin appealing) walks half-naked into her kitchen and announces that he’s mom’s new “friend”. The hormones that start to go mad whenever he breathes in her direction make Mia’s world, already a complicated one, start to stretch at the seams. Despite a plot that involves break-dance dreams, this film is no ridiculous Step It Up concoction. Mia is not looking for some kind of intervention from a gold-hearted kid from the other side of the tracks; instead, we get to experience her world as intensely as she explores it. Arnold’s immense talent for capturing her characters’ grimy existence without ever pulling for sympathy or passing judgment serves her extremely well, her ability to maintain an intense gaze without ever losing the viewer’s attention a constant wonder to behold.

United Kingdom, 2009

Directed by 

Screenplay by Andrea Arnold

Cinematography by 

Produced by ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Film Festivals:  Cannes 2009, TIFF 2009

The Criterion Collection

Cast Tags:  , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , ,, , , , , ,, , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , ,, , , ,

National Board Of Review Award
Top Ten Independent Films

Cannes Film Festival Award
Jury Prize (tie)

British Academy Award
Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film

European Film Award Nominations
Best European Film
Best European Actress (Katie Jarvis)
Best European Director (Andrea Arnold)

Chicago Film Critics Award Nomination
Most Promising Performer (Katie Jarvis)



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