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Movie Reviews

Fish Tank

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Released: 11th Sepetember 2009

Director: Andrea Arnold

Stars:Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Michael Fassbender

Certificate: 15

Reviewer: Matthew Coates

Watching a movie like Fish Tank presents a challenge because as a critic you have to separate your feelings from a well-made film. Often times they are one in the same, but in this case it was well-made, but one I didn’t particular enjoy. Katie Jarvis plays Mia, a British teenager who lives in the slums. She seems to have a knack for getting in trouble and creating it, whether that means making fun of girls at her school or letting a neighbor’s horse free. Her family is highly disfunctional – her dad ran out and she is left with her little sister and her mom, who only cares about living in the now, always to the neglect of her girls. Short tempers and cursing are well-known in their household and no one seems to care about anything, especially her mom, who is just looking for a good time and behaves as if she has no dependents.

Everything is status quo until Connor (Michael Fassbender, best known for his role in X-Men:First Class) enters the picture. Connor is the latest boyfriend of Mia’s mother. Mia obviously isn’t used to a man being so kind, caring, and gentle in her

life. The relationship between Mia and Connor is the crux of the movie. Connor encourages Mia’s interest in dance and is there for her when she injures herself. They strike an interesting balance between being cordial and appropriate.

I wonder about the movie’s title and what it could mean. What I concluded is that Fish Tank is about people that are living in surroundings they are accustomed to, and then another fish is inserted into their lives that turns everything upside down. Things certainly aren’t what they seem and we are left shocked about what happens between the characters. Often times the scenes play out slowly, with seemingly nothing really going on, but the director paces himself and slowly builds to some of the more dramatic moments.

The movie is shot well, giving us up-close glimpses and erratic movement of the camera, such as when Mia is running down the hallway. It projects a gritty, realistic take of what their lives must be like – desolate, down-trodden, hopeless. There are rare, tender moments between between Mia and Connor where she feels special and important, at least in someone’s eyes – and we see her let down her hardened guard.

Fish Tank is one of those movies that shows us that on occasion, something great comes into our life, but then something happens or changes and we return to the way things were. The director does a fine job of creating the world Mia has to deal with each day, letting us see into her life, and being able to empathize with her situation.

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