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Reviews and SPOILERS

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:31 pm

http://thegloriousninth.blogspot.com/2010/03/review-fish-tank-b.html

Sunday, March 7, 2010
Review: 'Fish Tank' [B]
Great lengths were taken during the production of Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank - a scummy, staunch British coming-of-age drama - to ensure absolute authenticity.

Scenes were shot chronologically, the actors unaware of their character's fate as the story progresses, and the film's lead, a 15 year-old wannabe dancer with a short fuse (played on screen by newcomer Katie Jarvis), was discovered by casting director Jill Trevellick on the streets of England in the midst of an apparently convincing argument with her boyfriend.

And it's this remarkably convincing and unabashed dedication to realism that - combined with the talents of its principal actors - gives Fish Tank its narrative spunk and uncomfortable veracity, which at times becomes too nihilistic even for me.

But the way in which Arnold keeps tricks to a minimum and takes the time to accentuate the pleasures of an afternoon car ride or the smell of her mom's boyfriend's cologne, she's able to get inside the disaffection and desires of her confounding and temperamental teen subject.

Living in a pinkish, boxy apartment with her sleazy, self-serving mother and a matured younger sister, Mia (Jarvis) escapes the harsh realities of lower-class England by dancing away to old-school American hip-hop and playfully prodding away at mom's frank and unpredictable boy toy (Michael Fassbender).

Proving his worth in art-houses and multiplexes alike (Hunger, Inglourious Basterds), Fassbender, who becomes quietly enamored with young Mia himself, turns in a textured and rich supporting role, concurrently becoming a father figure of sorts while still exuding a sense of inappropriateness and attachment beyond paternal mentoring.

And young Katie Jarvis - who even walks as if she's fed up with it - gives a dynamite, true-to-life performance as the always-present subject in this bleak, unforgiving and ostensibly futile drama that wavers significantly at points during the latter half before eventually re-righting the ship. Even when Mia crosses the line and becomes contemptuously vindictive, Arnold and Jarvis are quick to draw us back in and remind us of youthful arrogance and the elusiveness of life's even playing field.

Of course, the title Fish Tank refers to the enclosed world of Mia Williams, reduced to an onlooker and helpless dreamer of life out in the ocean. This is a film that sees our characters initially finding solace in listening to "California Dreamin" before finally and more appropriately settling on "Life's a Bitch." While it may seem like a tragic concession, it plays out more like a timely realization - our characters now unchained from their deluded optimism.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:40 pm

http://www.austincinephile.com/2010/03/09/you-wont-want-to-look-away-from-this-fish-tank-2009/

You won’t want to look away from this FISH TANK (2009)
Posted by Stephen Jannise
Mar 09 2010


Dir. Andrea Arnold
The Dobie, 3/08/10, 7:15pm

WARNING!!! You’ve only got three more days to see one of the best new films of the past few years! Inexplicably, The Dobie is shoving out Andrea Arnold’s marvelous new film Fish Tank after only one week to make room for the Oscar Nominated Shorts programs, even though the Oscars have already been handed out. This all-too-brief stay in Austin won’t do much for Arnold’s visibility in our fair city, which should be much higher after her very fine, Academy Award-winning, 2003 short Wasp and her stunning debut feature Red Road, which I saw at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in Manhattan in 2007. I remember thinking Arnold could be one of the next big things in contemporary filmmaking. But that film was almost completely ignored by American audiences, and Fish Tank, which is her best work to date, looks set to suffer the same fate. What does this woman have to do to get noticed?

The film tells the story of fifteen-year-old Mia, who is beginning to feel trapped in an impoverished housing project neighborhood. Her mother, who clearly must have been almost Mia’s age when she gave birth to Mia, is frequently drunk and often forces Mia and her younger sister out of the house so she can party with her friends. Such a domestic situation has not done wonders for Mia’s social success, as she has grown to be a mischief-seeking troublemaker. At the beginning of the film, she is indefinitely expelled from school after headbutting one of her classmates, and she has to flee from several angry boys after she tries to free a horse that is chained up next to their trailer.

Clearly, not much is going right for Mia, so she often escapes to an abandoned apartment room in a nearby building to dance, her hobby of choice. After finding someone of age to buy her some cheap liquor, she goes to this room with her music and her booze and dances and drinks the day away. Taking a break, she stares out the window as she drains the last of her alcohol, looking down on the similarly depressed people milling about the streets below. Thus the title of the film; confined in this room, on the inside looking out, Mia not only doesn’t know how to get out but also wouldn’t know where to go. As far as the eye can see, the situation doesn’t seem to get better; things are sh*#&% block after block.

She's going to be a Fly Girl on ''In Living Color.''

These dance scenes, with Mia bobbing and weaving to her hip-hop tunes, are reminiscent of Robert De Niro’s footwork in Raging Bull. In both cases, we see characters who seem lost in all areas of life except for dancing and boxing, respectively. When they get into their dance room/ring, the characters discover a vitality that they previously seemed incapable of achieving. And Katie Jarvis certainly brings a lot of vitality to the role of Mia. As it happens, Jarvis was herself a bit of a troublemaker before being cast in this film, and, like Mia’s mother, Jarvis became a mother at the age of sixteen. In an inspired bit of neo-realist casting, she was discovered by a casting agent causing a scene and arguing with a boyfriend on a train platform. The rest is history; will Mia be so lucky?

Arnold certainly does borrow many neo-realist techniques for the film. In addition to casting unknowns and non-professionals, she makes full use of her genuine locations. You need not know anything about lower-class living situations in England before seeing this film, because Arnold will make you understand just how hopeless and oppressive it can be. Mia obviously can’t afford a car, so we spend a lot of time walking with her from place to place in an expansive neighborhood that seems to have been thoughtlessly designed with car travel in mind. Luckily, Arnold’s director of photography Robbie Ryan manages somehow to find some optimism in these locations, occasionally allowing for moments of brightness and color to accentuate the idea that, even in the worst of situations, youth equals hope for the future. Why Arnold and Ryan decided to shoot the film in 1.33:1 is anyone’s guess.

Things do seem to pick up for Mia as the film progresses. She gets a callback for a dance audition, and, perhaps more thrillingly, her mother brings home a new beau, played by matinee-idol-in-training Michael Fassbender, fresh off of great performances as IRA martyr Bobby Sands in Hunger and a British film critic turned secret agent in Inglourious Basterds. She instantly becomes attracted to him, and he takes a shine to her as well. Is the kindness he shows her paternal in nature, or more sinister? And how will that dance audition play out? The final act of the film is astonishing, culminating in two scenes of quiet, heartbreaking beauty.

This is bad news.

Unlike Mia, Arnold never steps wrong, never makes a bad decision. Fish Tank is expertly constructed from start to finish, and Arnold’s talents as a writer and director are on full display. Going back to my initial question regarding what Arnold has to do to be noticed, her next film is a new adaptation of Wuthering Heights, starring the brooding Ed Westwick of Gossip Girl fame as Heathcliff. If that doesn’t do it, I don’t know what will.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:57 pm

http://motorcityblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/wild-at-heart-midweek.html

3/9/10
Wild At Heart midweek

Wild Bill Ketelhut provides the "blog" to this anti-blog

Didn't get home in time to put this on my typical Monday blog so here it is today. The movie "Fish Tank" is playing at the Main Art Theatre and is coming off a few impressive awards including the Jury Prize at Cannes and the 2010 BAFTA for Best British Film. The movie focuses on Mia (Katie Jarvis in her first role), a volatile 15-year-old who lives with her single mother Joanne and younger sister Tyler. Neglected by her frequently drunk mother, Mia is a loner who is angry at the world and gets into trouble at every turn. Her only outlet is street dancing which she practices alone in a deserted flat. One day her mother brings home her new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender) who is charming and appears to want to be a father figure to the two children but seems a little too distracted by Mia as she walks around the house in revealing clothes. He encourages Mia to pursue a dancing audition and things for the family seem to be becoming more normal when he seduces young Mia. The next day he is gone and Mia tracks him down to his other life. Katie Jarvis really stands out in this role esp since she doesn't have an acting background but was discovered arguing with her boyfriend in Tilbury Town railway station by one of the casting producers. Her performance, enhanced by the smarmy Fassbender, bring a realness to this film that is captivating. The film itself was actually filmed in chronological order with the actors getting their scripts each week so they don't know their characters full arc until it happens. This movie does focus on some unsettling lives since none of the characters are role models but when the movie is done, you can feel that their is some hope that Mia will turn her life around. I very nice indie movie for those that enjoy movies like "Sex, Lies, and Videotape". My grade is an B.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:18 pm

http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2010/03/030910fish_tank_review.html

reviews > 2010 theatrical releases Tue Mar 09 10, 3:58PM

Fish Tank (review)

Cinema is rife with portraits of angry young people. What makes this one so compulsively watchable is that here it is not the typical boy but a teenage girl who is so full of rage and so ready to lash out at everyone around her... and not without good reason, too. Some viewers may be turned off by the raw fury of 15-year-old Mia (newcomer Katie Jarvis), but they’re probably the ones who need to see this marvelously disturbing film most: for the reminder that life doesn’t have to be Precious-awful for a girl for growing up for it to be a nightmare, that mere ordinary adolescence can be brutal enough. Mia is just about enduring life in dreary council housing in working-class, industrial Dagenham, Essex, a remote eastern suburb of London, but things get infinitely worse and intriguingly more interesting when her hard-partying mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), brings home a new boyfriend, the evilly charming Connor (Michael Fassbender: Inglourious Basterds). Writer-director Andrea Arnold -- who made the riveting Red Road a few years back -- meanders through the confusion that Mia doesn’t even understand she’s experiencing and the naivete she doesn’t realize is being stripped away from her as she learns how to cope with the simultaneous attraction and repulsion she feels for Connor, as she struggles to assert herself the only way she knows how, through the dancing she’s not very good at. There is nothing but unrefined authenticity on display here, in yet another astonishing example of the new British cinematic realism, as we watch the train wreck of Mia’s mother, who can hardly have been older than Mia now when the teen was born, and wonder whether Mia herself is heading in that sad direction, or if she will find another way for herself. (available in the U.S. on IFC on Demand)

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:27 am

http://shadowsitcave.blogspot.com/2010/03/wild-card-tuesday-fish-tank.html

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Wild Card Tuesday - Fish Tank

Fish Tank (2009, dir. Andrea Arnold)
Starring Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing

Mia is angry at everyone and everything. She headbutts a girl for simply mouthing off to her. She fights constantly with her mother. She's considered an oddball by the boys. She's been kicked out of school. This her last chance. Andrea Arnold's portrait of a 15 year old girl growing up in contemporary Essex, England is an incredibly immersing film. I have to admit, I sat down to watch it less than enthused but found myself completely engrossed in the picture. Arnold's emphasis on naturalism comes shining through and every frame of the film feels honest and real.

Mia's world is changed when her mother brings Conner home. Conner is a handsome, charming man who treats Mia and her younger sister with kindness. The four make a nice little family, going out for a drive in the country one day, and Conner and Mia catching a fish together. But there is a palpable tension between Mia and Conner. The film constantly veers from her seeing him as a replacement father but also an object of sex. And for a girl in Mia's situation, such a confusion would be understandable. There is no single strong male or female influence in the girl's world, so when one comes along she clings to him for dear life.

There's a recurring action of Mia's that is glanced in the first moments of the film and repeated throughout. A ragged emaciated horse stands chained to large boulder in the middle of gravel covered field. Mia climbs a fence and uses a stone to smash at the chain and free the horse. With each attempt she find the action more and more futile. Another action which Mia repeats again and again is when she busts into an abandoned tenement flat and practice hip hop dancing. Music becomes a link between she and Conner and also a possible mode of escape. Where Mia and her family end up is a balanced mix of sadness and hope, and Conner's role in it all is the most shocking.

The film is all about newcomer Katie Jarvis who, in her film debut, is absolutely amazing. Katie's personal life is not too different from her character's. She was a mother at 16 and was discovered while screaming at her boyfriend on the street. The same anger and fire in Mia is all brought to the film by Katie herself. Director Andrea Arnold is also a powerful force, making this world feel completely honest and knowing when and what to show the audience. An amazing achievement in contemporary British cinema.
Posted by Seth Harris at 6:15 PM

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:25 pm

http://longroadmediaissues.blogspot.com/2010/03/fish-tank.html

Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Fish Tank
2009. Directed by Andrea Arnold.
http://www.fishtankmovie.com/

Synopsis:
Fish Tank is the story of Mia (Katie Jarvis), a volatile 15 year old, who is always in trouble and has been excluded from school and ostracised by her friends. One day her mother brings home a mysterious stranger called Connor who promises to change everything and bring love into all their lives.

Trailers:

Awards:
Best Director for Andrea Arnold and Most Promising Newcomer for Katie Jarvis
British Independent Film Awards – www.bifa.org.uk/winners/2009
Jury Prize Winner – Cannes Film Festival 2009
BAFTA – Outstanding British Film
Reviews:
Andrea Arnold's Palme d'Or contender is a powerful film of betrayed love in a bleak landscape, powered by fizzing performances from Michael Fassbender and newcomer Katie Jarvis.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 14th May 2009
In the claustrophobic flats which incubate family dysfunction and rage, and the wild beautiful spaces thereabouts, where the urban sprawls out into the country, film-maker Andrea Arnold finds a powerful story of betrayed love. One of three British movies in competition at Cannes this year, Fish Tank is a powerfully acted drama, beautifully photographed by cinematographer Robbie Ryan, who intersperses bleak interiors with sudden, gasp-inducing landscapes like something by Turner. Arnold takes elements of tough social-realist drama which are, if not cliches exactly, then certainly familiar — but makes them live again and steers the movie away from miserabilism, driven by a heartfelt central performance.
Mia, played by newcomer Katie Jarvis, is a lary 15-year-old who lives with single mum Joanne, played by Kierston Wareing, her lippy younger sister Tyler — a scene-stealer from Rebecca Griffiths — and their drolly named dog, Tennents. As well as a sincere devotion to cheap supermarket booze, the girls have learned from their mother mannerisms of pre-emptive scorn and rage to cover up perennially hurt feelings. Mia herself is a wannabe dancer, and when she's trying out some moves in the kitchen one morning, her mother's new boyfriend ambles in half-naked, looking to put the kettle on.
This is handsome, charming Connor, outstandingly played by Michael Fassbender, and he looks at Mia with frank appraisal. "You dance like a black," he says, " ... I mean that as a compliment." Poor Mia has never had a compliment or any praise in her life and responds with alternating suspicion and fierce, semi-controlled gratitude, especially when Connor behaves like a real dad, taking everyone out for drives in the country.
Of course there is a sexual atmosphere between Connor and Mia, so tropically humid that the ceiling is almost dripping. Mia pretends to be asleep one night so Connor will carry her to bed, and there is an extremely gamey mock-spanking scene, when Connor pretends to "discipline" her. Mia has no idea how to express or manage huge, unspent reserves of passion: she doesn't know if she wants a lover, or a father — or just someone to love her unconditionally. Connor is perhaps the man for this, but the slippery charmer has secrets.
The performances of Jarvis and Fassbender are outstanding and their chemistry fizzes — and then explodes. It is another highly intelligent, involving film from one of the most powerful voices in British cinema.
Posted by Andrea at 06:21

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:44 pm

http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A412550

3 stars

FISH TANK—Early scenes in English filmmaker Andrea Arnold's drama establish that 15-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) has few friends, skips school and loves to dance: Hip-hop is her specialty, and she has a secret abandoned space on the top floor of an apartment building that she uses for practice. Mia lives in the waterfront town of Tilbury with her younger sister and Joanne (Kierston Wareing), her scarcely older mother, a tarty blonde who is rapidly going to seed. Mia's mom brings home a new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender), and Mia, though initially hostile, warms up to him as he shows parental interest. But of course, it won't stop there. Jarvis is an first-time actor; she handles her character's limited emotional palette well enough, but it's the veterans Wareing and Fassbender who make Fish Tank succeed as a sure-footed snapshot of an adolescent girl's unpromising life. Reviewed on page 31. Not rated. —DF

http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A412510

An English coming of age tale in Fish Tank
10 MAR 2010 • by David Fellerath, dfellerath (at) indyweek (dot) com

Fish Tank opens Friday in select theaters

Kitchen-sink realism has been associated with British theater since the early work of John Osborne in the 1950s, and these depictions of the intimate, messy lives of working-class families have never really gone away. And on it goes through the films of Alan Clarke, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach. Women get in on the act, too—Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey was a theatrical landmark of the late 1950s, and, in film, Lynne Ramsay's Ratcatcher was a memorable effort from a decade ago.

Now there's Fish Tank, the second indie feature film from the English director Andrea Arnold, featuring an arresting debut from teenage performer Katie Jarvis, which is so kitchen-sink that the characters drink water directly from it, for lack of clean glasses, perhaps.

Fish Tank is set in the Essex town of Tilbury, east of London at the mouth of the Thames. It's sunnier here than you typically expect Britain to be, but the characters live in dingy council houses. We meet Mia (Jarvis), a 15-year-old semisocialized girl who lives with her younger sister and Joanne (Kierston Wareing), her scarcely older mother, a tarty blonde who is rapidly going to seed.

Early scenes establish that Mia has few friends, skips school and loves to dance: Hip-hop is her specialty, and she has a secret abandoned space on the top floor of an apartment building that she uses for practice. In other scenes, she takes an interest in a horse that is being kept by some young vagabonds who live in an abandoned lot. In keeping with the metaphor of animal confinement suggested by the film's title, Mia makes repeated attempts to free the horse, failed efforts that nonetheless bring her into contact with other similarly marginal human beings.

The machinery of the film's plot gets cranking when Mia's mom brings home a new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender). Connor initially seems like another one of her mother's drunken conquests, but this guy sticks around for a few days, long enough to spend some time with the kids. In contrast to Mia's mother, who is raging against her own vanishing youth and is preoccupied with man-catching, Connor seems like a decent-enough guy, even if the two adults aren't discreet about their lovemaking and drink heavily around the kids. (He's also gainfully employed, no mean feat in the milieu of this film.)

Although Mia is initially hostile to Connor's presence in the household, she warms up to him as he shows more parental interest than her mother does—he encourages her dancing, for example, and questions her judgment for keeping company with a boy he thinks is too old for her. It doesn't take a social worker, however, to predict where Connor and Mia's relationship is going.

There are two distinct approaches to casting actors in the roles of wild, nearly feral characters. One can cast from the pool of trained performers, or one can go to the film's location and try to find nonactors who can persuasively play versions of themselves. In recent years, such works of crunchy realism as Monster, Wendy and Lucy and L'Enfant have featured professional performers playing inarticulate, marginal characters. At the other aesthetic extreme is the conviction that nonprofessionals offer the least mediated, most honest performances—North Carolina native Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo) is one of them, following in the footsteps of such illustrious forebears as Robert Bresson and Abbas Kiarostami.

In the case of Fish Tank, we see both approaches in a collaboration between amateur performers and pros. In the case of the lead, Arnold's talent scout went to Tilbury and spotted the teenage Jarvis arguing with her boyfriend on a train platform. Although she couldn't dance, she had movie-star looks and an authentic provincial accent, and got the part. Looking a bit like a Kristen Stewart with less training and slightly more affect, Jarvis is just fine working with the limited emotional palette of her character. Although her dancing is studied and tentative, she gets an assist by favorable comparison to the awful dancers we see elsewhere in the film.

It's the two traditionally trained performers in the emotional and sexual triangle who make Fish Tank succeed as a sure-footed snapshot of an adolescent girl's unpromising life. Fassbender is more known for his work in artificial movie realms (Inglourious Basterds; 300), but here he shows off his comfort with the realist tradition (he also recently starred as an Irish Republican Army martyr in Steve McQueen's Hunger). His Connor manages to be charming, sexual, sensitive and manly before his grievous flaws are exposed. As Joanne, Wareing, who starred in It's a Free World..., by realist filmmaker par excellence Ken Loach, gives a selfless performance as an inept, inattentive mother who becomes sexually threatened by the daughter she obviously bore when she herself was a teenager.

Thematically, Fish Tank doesn't take us anywhere we haven't been before—although there's a rather frightening turn of events in the film's third act as the life of a young child is endangered. Otherwise, the film is a roman à clef about a teenager who needs to figure out how to survive her youth. Despite the ultimate familiarity of the narrative, the film's sense of place is distinct and memorable—you can practically smell the brackish water of the riverside setting and feel the sweaty discontent and inchoate rage in the lives of the characters. Near the film's end, there is a dance between Mia, her mother and her younger sister; it's a strange and hostile one, in which they confront each other as mirrored images of their self-loathing, in an impressive, imaginative finale to a well-wrought film.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:03 pm

http://www.buffalonews.com/2010/03/12/985340/teen-angst.html

Newcomer Katie Jarvis stars as a troubled teen in “Fish Tank.”

MOVIE REVIEW
‘Fish Tank’: Teen angst in a British slum
BY MELINDA MILLER
News Staff Reviewer
Updated: March 12, 2010, 8:31 am
Published: March 12, 2010, 6:55 am

Director Andrea Arnold tries for something strong and revealing in her award-winning drama “Fish Tank,” and, on an emotional level, she succeeds with high marks.

On a more practical level, for those sitting in the seats for more than two hours, the grade is somewhat lower.

FISH TANK
Two and a half stars (Out of four)
Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender star in drama about a troubled teen who thinks her life will change when mom brings home a new boyfriend. Directed by Andrea Arnold. 122 minutes. Unrated, but a serious R for sexual activity, brief nudity and abundant profanity.

From the opening scene to its desperate end, “Fish Tank” joins us to the narrow hip of Mia (Katie Jarvis), a foul-mouthed, angry 15-year-old flailing her way through life in an English slum..

Her mom (Kierston Wareing) is a boozy blond drunk who could not be less interested in her two aimless daughters (Mia has a little sister).

This is life as seen through dirty, cracked windows and lived in tight, cluttered public housing hallways and scraggy fields of dirt and rock. Arnold at no time makes any attempt to find beauty in Mia’s world.

The only window where the view changes is the television screen, and it is there Mia gets inspiration for her dream of being a dancer. She practices in a vacant apartment, partly for personal escape and partly from an insecurity she keeps buried deep inside, but Arnold never pretends her girl has any Cinderella future ahead.

But one morning, while she’s trying her moves in the kitchen at home, Connor (Michael Fassbender) walks in on Mia. A “friend” of her mother’s, he’s shirtless, hunky and the first person we meet who doesn’t assault Mia verbally or physically. He is almost polite. Mia responds by pinching 20 quid from his wallet.

Gradually, Connor wins over Mia and her family. Mom invites him to move in; her younger sister starts behaving like a happy little girl instead of a bimbo-in-training; and Mia, for the first time in her life, may have found someone who cares about her.

She also begins to open up to a young man more her age. Billy (Harry Treadaway) is a 19-year-old who tolerates Mia hanging around his caravan; he first found her as she tried to break the chain tying his scrawny, aging mare.

As Mia wanders within the confines of this narrow world — her grimy fish tank — Arnold’s camera wanders with her, bouncing along in hand-held proximity, in and out of focus, in and out of frame. And it is here the movie starts to founder. Mia walking, Mia running, people drinking, people fornicating, Mia hugging herself close in a knot of confusing emotions. The pacing slips, and we look at our watches.

Then the storm clouds break and the director recovers for an ending that is messy, frightening and as uncertain as life.

More interesting, though, is Jarvis. She is 17, and “Fish Tank” is her first acting job; according to press information, she was invited to audition for the role when spotted arguing with her boyfriend at a suburban train station. She and Fassbender play off one another with scary authenticity. Their interaction — kind, manipulative, with an undercurrent of the sexual — is so intimate it can make you squirm in your seat.

These near-wordless scenes are Arnold’s triumph, as is her unblinking revelation of characters trapped in lives of hopeless ugliness. Her effort pays off for those who want to share her vision; most would rather look away.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:05 pm

http://www.themarknews.com/articles/1121-i-fish-tank-i-dead-end-living

Fish Tank: Dead-End Living

Andrea Arnold’s film offers a gritty take on the working class urban existence.
Barbara Falk
Associate Professor, Department of Defence Studies, Royal Military College of Canada.

First published Mar 12, 2010

“Life’s a bitch, and then you die.” The refrain to Nas’ well-known hip-hop song plays as the credits roll at the end of Andrea Arnold’s film Fish Tank, and appropriately so. It perfectly summarizes the dead-end existence of working class urban life captured in the film.

Fish Tank follows a few weeks in the life of lead character Mia, a bitter and angry 15-year-old, played superbly with brooding teenage angst by neophyte actress Kate Jarvis. Mia, her younger sister Tyler, and her single, incompetent, self-pitying mother live in a crowded, low-rent apartment complex, itself part of an oppressive concrete jungle of similar buildings. Mia, her family, and most of the bit players that populate the film are truly in a fish tank – trapped, looking blankly at an external world they cannot access, with no real hope of escape.

When we first encounter Mia, she is in full rebellion, yet has an ill-thought-out dream of becoming a dancer. She has no real friends, dances mostly for and by herself, and is angry without understanding why. The first person to encourage her is her mom’s new boyfriend, Conner (Michael Fassbender), who arrives in the all-female household with wry warmth and humour. Having no father or masculine role model in her life, Mia is not sure what to make of her Mom’s new beau – she is nervously attracted to him, but at the same time clearly uncomfortable with his attention.

The film has a jumpy and unexpected quality that is refreshing. Too often, these kinds of narratives are predictable in their very doomed hopelessness. Apparently Arnold, who was the writer as well as director, did not allow the cast to read the whole screenplay, only giving each actor the script for upcoming scenes a few days before filming them. Because it was shot chronologically, none of the actors knew what would happen by the end of the film – a technique that preserved the film’s hyper-realism.

Momentum is created, the suspense builds, and relationships change, but issues such as consent and fault are not as straightforward as they seem. No one is capable of good judgment, or of bearing responsibility for rash actions or “choices” – characteristics that well-meaning social workers and welfare policy wonks eagerly wish to inculcate in the “poor.” It’s hard to figure out why that is so impossible unless you are in the middle of it, but Arnold’s film offers a partial explanation.

Shot mostly by hand-held camera, both interior and exterior scenes feel oppressively claustrophobic and crowded. Fish Tank is very much in the tradition of gritty, working-class British realism, and one feels the influence of Ken Loach mixed with a dollop of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, particularly his early work.

However, Arnold brings to her film a simultaneous harshness and sensitivity to the subtleties of her mostly female cast – where a downward glance, make-up running down a crying face, shouting an expletive, or wearing a garment suggestively convey as much meaning as the dialogue. There is thankfully no heavy-handed proselytizing here, but the metaphor is slightly over-extended when, at the film’s conclusion, we see a balloon flying haphazardly up and away in its own attempted escape.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:12 pm

http://www.sltrib.com/themix/ci_14655629

2 1/2 stars

Fish Tank

Opens today at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; not rated, but probably R for sexual content, violence and language; 123 minutes.

The performances are everything in this tough drama from British writer-director Andrea Arnold ("Red Road"). Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a perpetually angry 15-year-old who finds refuge from her working-class life by practicing her hip-hop dance moves in an empty flat in her tenement building. Then her
Andi (Florian Lukas), Toni (Benno Fürmann), Willy (Simon Schwarz), Edi (Georg Friedrich) climb the treacherous Eiger in the Swiss Alps, in the German drama "North Face." (Nadja Klier / Music Box Films)
mother (Kierston Wareing) brings home a new boyfriend, Connor ("Inglourious Basterds' " Michael Fassbender), who gives Mia the first encouragement she's ever heard. Mia also strikes up a friendship with an older boy, Billy (Harry Treadaway), as she seeks an escape from poverty, her mum and the other girls in the neighborhood. Arnold's story line takes turns that are sometimes predictable, other times harrowing. But it's Jarvis, in her first movie appearance, who commands the screen as Mia, providing a window into the mind of a girl facing adulthood.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:14 pm

http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/03/12/381165/admirable-but-not-subtle.html

Admirable but not subtle

Courtesy of Holly Horner
Katie Jarvis is a first-time actress as Mia in 'Fish Tank.'

BY CRAIG D. LINDSEY - Staff Writer

After seeing the movie "Fish Tank," I now know what one of my former employers meant when he said about a woman who would later be his ex-wife, "Yeah, she may be white and British. But don't be mistaken, she is ghet-to!"

My guess is his ex came from the same sort of British housing project that Mia (first-time actress Katie Jarvis) comes from. Mia, the movie's 15-year-old protagonist, is rage and vulgarity with a bopping ponytail, ready to curse someone out or head-butt a girl in the nose. Mia is truly a product of her environment, because she lives with her immature, verbally abusive harpy of a mother (Kierston Wareing) and her smoking, equally profane little sis (Rebecca Griffiths).

Mia usually retreats to an abandoned apartment upstairs to do her dance routines; being a dancer in a Ja Rule video seems to be one of her dreams. (Apparently, this movie is set in the early part of the last decade, when people still liked Ja Rule.) It's a pipe dream she begins to think could be a reality when Connor (Michael Fassbender), Mom's new boyfriend, enters the picture. Connor soon moves in and becomes the father and caregiver Mia never had, encouraging her in her dancing, even carrying her on his back when her foot gets injured.

Connor is such a positive role model, he seems too good to be true. Is he? Rather than spoil that surprise, I will say that as "Tank" plows through its second hour, Mia's chances for a rosy, hopeful future get increasingly, uncomfortably slim with each minute.

Writer-director Andrea Arnold ("Red Road") shows a confident, focused eye in "Tank" as the movie follows Mia, virtually catching her point-of-view in every frame. At times, "Tank" is a movie that's too on-the-nose with the symbolism and metaphors. Throughout, Mia constantly goes over to a junkyard to try to free a white horse. (You get it? This beautiful thing is shackled up in a lousy environment and needs to be free. Just like her - don't you see!?) Near the end, Mia and her mom finally bond by dancing to a Nas song. And the name of that song? "Life's a Bitch." (I do have to admit, if you do close out a movie with a rap song, you can't go wrong with a classic like that.)

I wish I could dig "Tank" as much as some of my film-critic friends, who think this is a more honest depiction of a working-class girl coming-of-age than both "An Education" (I can't help but call this movie "An Education in the Hood") and "Precious." And although it appears "Tank" is the more naturalistic and Ken Loach-ian of the trio, "Fish Tank" is another one of those admire-more-than-like movies for me.

Not to mention that a movie like this, in which a bright, talented young girl gets a brutal crash course in growing up in the real world (remember "Blue Car"?), seems to come along every other season. I'm beginning to think I've had my fill of them.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:33 pm

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700015799/Fish-Tank-is-a-raunchy-potty-tank.html


Fish Tank

'Fish Tank' is a raunchy potty tank

2 stars

By Jeff Vice

Deseret News
Published: Thursday, March 11, 2010 2:50 p.m. MST-

Film review

It's tempting to say that the kind of frank language used by the characters in "Fish Tank" would embarrass even the usually potty-mouthed filmmakers Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino. But we all know that's impossible.

However, the extreme profanities and other crudities that are uttered in this overlong and downbeat British drama might embarrass Smith's and Tarantino's respective mothers.

Also, its themes about precocious and sexually open teens are too similar to those explored in such films such as "Kids" (1995) and "Thirteen" (2003) — and, to a lesser extent, the Oscar-nominated "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire."

And despite some early acclaim for the film, its plotting is too conventional and predictable. The one really compelling reason to see it is the startlingly vivid performance of Katie Jarvis, a newcomer.

She stars as Mia, a teen who has aspirations to become a dancer … or to do anything that will get her away from her family and home.

That's because she's got a strained-at-best relationship with her neglectful mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing). And Mia has little patience for her nearly as foul-mouthed little sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths), or her fellow teens.

In fact, about the only person Mia gets along with is her mother's new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender).

That friendship even threatens to turn into something more, despite the differences in their ages.

Oddly, screenwriter/director Andrea Arnold ("Red Road") clearly wants viewers to sympathize with either Mia or Connor. And frankly, neither of these people is very likable, despite the talented performers who play these characters.

If anything, we're considerably more interested in Billy (Harry Treadaway), a junk yard denizen who befriends Mia and gives the teen an unexpected opportunity to escape her humdrum existence.

"Fish Tank" is not rated but would probably receive an R for strong sexual language (profanity, vulgar slang and other frank talk), simulated sex and other sexual contact (including sex with a minor), violent content and imagery (a head butt, some animal violence and violence against women, brief female and partial male nudity, other off-color references and language, derogatory language and slurs (some based on female degradation), and scenes showing underage drinking and smoking. Running time: 126 minutes.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:26 am

http://thirdcoastdigest.com/2010/03/mff-winter-review-fish-tank/

* ThirdCoast Digest > Arts & Culture > Film > MFF Winter Review: Fish Tank

* MFF Winter Review: Fish Tank

* March 14th, 2010
* |
* By Ryan Findley

One of the most fundamental questions that any art form can answer for us is “How do other people live?” What are there lives like; what do they do? What is it like to look through the eyes of another person? Film is particularly suited to providing us these insights and it is in this vein that Fish Tank, written and directed by Andrea Arnold, flows.

Fifteen-year-old Mia lives with her mother and her younger sister in a small apartment. The small apartment is one of a great many in a very large building. One morning, Mia is making tea in the kitchen when her mother’s new boyfriend appears. A complicated and bruising relationship develops, lubricated by a steady stream of alcohol consumed by all parties.

The story is perhaps predictable, and none of the events of the movie are surprising. Mia develops a crush on her mother’s boyfriend, the boyfriend treats her by turns as a child he’s tending and a woman he’s wooing, and the culmination is an inappropriate sexual relationship. While Mia’s mother is jealous of her young and pretty daughter in a generalized way, she doesn’t realize or is blinding herself to the extend of their relationship. The boyfriend turns out to be a married father of one, something Mia discovers after he leaves their lives, crushing both her and her mother.

Katie Jarvis plays Mia with a believable and touching reticence. She never gives anything away; she watches the world around her, waiting for some clue about what is going to happen before reacting. She is cautious, except when she’s impulsive, which she can be. This alternation between observation and wild action is something anyone that was or has an angsty teenager will relate to. Michael Fassbender as Connor, the boyfriend, is equally good at walking the line between extremes. In his case, he veers between fatherly affection and sexually-charged flirting with a suddenness that is unnerving. Mia’s mother, played by Kierston Wareing, is always not-quite-aware. She is wrapped in her own life, one she does not like, and she has no time for anyone else.

The cinematography is the gem of this movie. Each shot is framed to show you exactly what Mia is seeing. The camerawork literally allows you to see through her eyes and hear through her fishtank2ears. When she wakes in the morning, the sun blinds the viewers, the shot is sideways, and all sounds come muffled and faraway. When she is becoming aware of her attraction to her mother’s boyfriend, everything slows and underneath the dialog is a very subtle beat, as if you can hear the blood pounding in her ears with her. Her empathy for those creatures with even less control of their lives than her is brought to the forefront by truly breathtaking framing. Robbie Ryan’s work is nothing less than amazing in this film.

In the end, Fish Tank is a portrait. Like many portraits, one can see pieces of one’s self in it, but not completely. It is one girl’s life and one girl’s story, and any truths gleaned are not universal. They are deeply personal.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:52 am

http://www.michigandaily.com/content/fish-tank

Superb 'Fish Tank' depicts troubled youth with gritty realism

By: Emily Boudreau
Daily Arts Writer
Published March 14th, 2010

“Fish Tank” isn't a movie a lot of people have heard about or would even typically see, but it offers a gritty portrayal of life that should not go unnoticed.

Mia (newcomer Kate Jarvis) is a 15-year-old girl who dreams of being a hip-hop dancer, but the obstacles of her everyday life — getting kicked out of school, picking fights with other girls and sneaking alcohol — stand in the way. Her life has deteriorated and she spends most of her days wandering around the streets, the hood of her sweatshirt pulled over her eyes.

Jarvis delivers a searingly realistic performance. It’s not exactly a touching or emotional one, and it’s hard to really like her character, but that’s what makes it powerful. Jarvis makes Mia come across as an actual person. Perhaps what makes her character so distant is that it’s hard to know what’s really going on in her mind or in her world. Yet this is also the aspect that makes her so captivating — part of the film’s force lies in making the audience wait to see what her next move will be.

Life seems to get a bit brighter for Mia when her Mom’s boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender, “Inglourious Basterds”) enters the picture. He floats through life easily, makes Mia laugh and encourages her dancing, softening the harshness of her life. At the same time, he develops a relationship with Mia that soon causes their lives and the secrets within them to unravel.

Fassbender is outstanding in “Fish Tank.” He manages to combine aspects of both a father figure and a sexual predator in his character flawlessly and believably. It’s difficult to imagine a single person executing such opposite aspects in a way that's not overdone. His portrayal of Connor adds just the right amount of menace to the story.

The strength of the plot and characters depends a lot on the setting of the film. The world they inhabit is one of shabby, squalid apartment buildings, graffiti and men in beer-stained t-shirts with their stomachs out. Their world is not a traditionally pretty one, but there are moments when the camera brings out little details like the way the birds are circling overhead, the way light comes through the car window or the way a balloon makes its way across the skyline. It’s in moments like these that Mia’s world seems to have the potential for beauty. But just as quickly as these images flit across the screen, that potential is swallowed up.

As a girl who aspires to be a hip-hop backup dancer, Mia spends a lot of her time with her headphones on, listening to her music. The music doesn't act as merely a passive supplement to the film — it adds a valuable layer. In the last scene, Mia, her mother and her little sister are dancing together as a family. After all they have been through, it’s hard not to find the scene touching, but then the words of the song come through: “Life’s a bitch and then you die.”

“Fish Tank” doesn't try to have a large, overbearing message; it instead focuses on creating an authentic story in which nothing is forced. The film shifts beautifully and believably between both the light and the dark side of life.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:58 am

http://calvinscanadiancaveofcool.blogspot.com/2010/03/fish-tank.html

Sunday, March 14, 2010
Fish Tank

I heard of this indie movie through my various readings. It follows life in a lower class British neighborhood through the eyes of 15 yr old Mia. How kids survive in such an environment without parental guidance or even HOPE is amazing to me. A feeling of desperation hangs over everything this girl experiences.

Her mother is violent and abusive. She ignores her children in favor of the company of the men she brings home with her. The 'C' word flows freely between them. She has virtually NO relation with her 'growing up too soon' little sister, Tyler.

Since her home life is so bad Mia can do nothing but move between empty apartments and other places where she drinks and dances out her anger alone. She is not exactly a 'people person'. She doesn't attend school. Her ambition is to be a street dancer.

Her harsh exterior masks a deeper sense of compassion for everyone and a longing to be loved. Around her people laugh and have fun but she is never includes herself in that life. She rarely smiles.

Everyday she also tries to release a horse that is chained up. Maybe she feels an affinity with the animal and by releasing it from it's bonds, she will be releasing herself.

It's interesting that the videos on TVs constantly show her the trappings of a music lifestyle that she wants desperately but will never achieve. Like we need to point hammered home any harder that her life is a cycle of repeating hell.

When her mother's newest bf Conner (Michael Fassbender) shows her some kindness it totally messes with her world. All she knows is anger and hatred being directed towards her. He treats her with respect and asks her about herself and what she thinks about things. She can barely believe that someone like this even exists.

Despite all the confidence he gives her to believe in herself and make one step forward, her home and life situation pull her back two more.

The movie is propelled and sustained by the amazing performance of first timer Katie Jarvis who plays Mia. She was a discovered by director Andrea Arnold. She hardly seems to be acting. With a good deal of hand-held camera shots, it's like we are following an actual person through the bleak days of her life.

To tell you anymore about this film would be ruining a truly great viewing experience. It's honest and brave and exhilerating and sad and hopeful.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:48 pm

http://www.avclub.com/milwaukee/articles/fish-tank,38647/

Fish Tank B-
by Noel Murray March 16, 2010 -

Director: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing
Rated: Not Rated
Running time: 123 minutes
Related artists
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Milwaukee Film Festival - Winter Edition: Fish Tank
Fish Tank screens as part of the Milwaukee Film Festival-Winter Edition, which runs March 12-18 at North Shore Cinema in Mequon.

When O.J. Simpson was acquitted of double murder in 1995, some suggested that the case went south because the LAPD “tried to frame a guilty man.” The same could be said of Fish Tank, a domestic drama from Red Road writer-director Andrea Arnold. Arnold elicits a remarkably natural performance from first-timer Katie Jarvis, who plays a working-class Essex teen living with her ill-tempered mother, her precocious sister, and her mom’s live-in boyfriend, Michael Fassbender. Whenever Fish Tank honestly explores how Jarvis regards Fassbender—as a combination mentor/ersatz father/object of desire—the movie is a small marvel, keenly attuned to what it’s like for a child to become aware of her sexual power. But Arnold can’t rest on realism, and keeps rigging the plot to make Jarvis’ situation sadder and more archetypal.

Throughout Fish Tank, Arnold returns to Jarvis’ infatuation with a painfully symbolic white horse, chained up near her council estate. Arnold also has the TV in Jarvis’ apartment constantly tuned to opulent music videos or “look at my awesome house” shows—all to remind the audience that Jarvis feels bound at chain’s-length from what she really wants. And when Jarvis learns some heartbreaking secrets about Fassbender, her reaction briefly turns Fish Tank into a potboiler suspense movie, as though everyday drama weren’t dramatic enough. Arnold’s “please don’t miss the point” campaign culminates in the movie’s strained final image, which compares Jarvis to an abandoned party balloon, yearning to be untethered.

Fish Tank’s groaningly obvious passages wouldn’t be so aggravating if Arnold didn’t get so much right. The movie is unusually sensitive to the ways young people pick up their cues on how to act like adults, and how awkwardly they practice what they’ve learned. Jarvis looks like a lovely young woman at times, then comes off as small and fragile when she’s riding in the back seat of Fassbender’s car, or when she’s pretending to be asleep while he tucks her into bed. Arnold understands how teenagers act tougher than they actually are, and the way their seduction rituals often involve running around like preschoolers. But Fish Tank’s subplot about Jarvis’ dream to be a street dancer hits these points too hard, overemphasizing Jarvis’ lack of confidence in her own sexuality. In that way, Jarvis is a lot like Arnold: an artist who knows the steps, but doesn’t yet have all the moves.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:49 pm

http://www.niagarafallsreporter.com/calleri3.16.10.html

"Fish Tank" is an independent feature from Great Britain that deserves to be seen. It is raw and uncompromising, with acting that sears the screen.

Screenwriter-director Andrea Arnold (an Oscar winner in 2005 for her live-action short "Wasp") tells a tough-as-nails story about Mia, a 15-year-old girl who is always in conflict with everyone around her, from her classmates to the neighbors in her English housing project.

Her youthful mother brings home a gentleman caller who is willing to help the family get ahead, and especially help Mia overcome her hostility to the world around her.

Director Arnold gets powerful performances from Katie Jarvis as Mia, Kierston Wareing as the mother, and Michael Fassbender as the new man in their lives.

"Fish Tank" is a gritty, unsettling, slice-of-life picture, not unlike the strong work of director Ken Loach.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:07 pm

http://popcultureguy-don.blogspot.com/2010/03/indie-spotlight-fish-tank-2009.html

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Indie Spotlight - Fish Tank (2009)
One of the things I enjoy most about Independent films is the originality that is inherent is so many of them. For example, the movie Fish Tank is certainly original, but it is doubtful that mainstream audiences will embrace a film that seemingly meanders around for much of its two hour run time. Usually, the “down time” would bother me, but in this case, it works.

The meandering around that I was referring to is focused on Mia (Katie Jarvis), a 15 year old girl who spends a good deal of time walking around, getting into trouble and dancing. Not much is said in those scenes, but they are important because they show a girl trying to forge her identity as well as her attempts at fitting into society. Mia feels like an outcast and because of her less than perfect home life, she struggles with intimacy. The intimacy issue if made even more challenging because of her burgeoning sexuality, along with her attraction to her mother’s boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender). Connor senses Mia’s attraction and does little to curb it. He seems to enjoy the attention, but the ramifications of their potential pairing could cause serious problems between Mia and her mother. Of course, their relationship is far from idyllic to begin with.

Like many teenagers, Mia struggles with her emotions, but she has more to deal with than most of her peers. However, she appears to be intelligent as well as talented and underneath all of the hurt that she carries around is a potentially wonderful person. All she really needs is love and understanding to fully become the person she is destined to be. Viewers know that Mia has a kind heart, as she tries to free a horse that always appears to be chained up and has not chance to run around and be free. Perhaps she felt a kindred spirit in the animal.

While I was not familiar with any of the cast members, I was impressed with the almost all of the performances. In fact, Katie Jarvis made her acting debut in this film and she delivers a solid, believable performance, as Mia. In addition, Michael Fassbender is well cast as heartthrob Connor, who loves the ladies. Rounding out the cast is Kierston Wareing as Mia’s mother, Joanne, and Rebecca Griffiths as Tyler, Mia’s younger sister. The performances from the three female cast members make the dysfunctional dynamic between mother and daughter(s) feel very authentic.

Fish Tank is not for everyone. However, if you are tired of seeing the same old recycled plots that appear in so many mainstream films and have the patience to sit through a two hour film that does not spoon feed you the entire time, then you may very well enjoy this film.

Grade - B
Posted by Don at 12:22 PM

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:44 pm

http://www.sfreeper.com/2010/03/17/fish-tank/

Fish Tank feels real—because it is
By Charlotte on March 17th, 2010

Watch Fish Tank, which opened at the Screen on Friday, March 12, and you might think: “Wow, that lead actress is great.” Seventeen-year-old Katie Jarvis plays Mia, an unruly 15-year-old living in a claustrophobic flat with her mother and sister in a seedy neighborhood in England. As she head-butts other girls in the face, screams at her mother and slathers on pounds of eye makeup each morning, you love her and hate her at the same time—she’s loud, rude, spirited and you can practically see the conflict bubbling under the surface.

If you think the actress has done a great job with the character of Mia, you’re right. But the truth is, Mia’s not a character.

Jarvis was discovered by casting agents while she was arguing with her boyfriend on a train platform in Essex. During shooting, Jarvis was no longer living in her parents’ house and spent nights sleeping on her sister’s couch; when she slept, that is. She was said to go out drinking most of the time that she wasn’t on the set. She had no interest in being an actress or living up her newfound fame (In advance of Cannes Film Festival, where the film won the Jury Prize, director Andrea Arnold said of Jarvis: “I don’t think she really understands what this means. Festivals and things are not really part of her life”), and while the film was making a splash in critical and festival circles, Jarvis was at home taking care of her one-week-old baby (fathered by the boyfriend whom she was yelling at on the train platform). She does not plan to seriously pursue acting, despite winning the “Most Promising Newcomer” designation at the 2009 British Independent Film Awards. How’s that for irony?Since the character of Mia is a dancer, the powers that be were originally scoping out professional dancers to play the part. However, casting a non-dancer in the role could be the best thing Arnold could have done; Jarvis is not a very talented dancer. She works her ass off (she has staked out an empty room in an abandoned apartment building as her own private dance studio), is constantly listening to the hip-hop she likes to choreograph, watches MTV videos intently, and has a steely resolve that could almost pass for that of a pro—but when she actually starts moving, it’s really mediocre. Her moves are mediocre and she does them with excessive concentration on her face.

So Mia dances and drinks malt liquor in an abandoned building; her mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing) dresses provocatively and invites crowds over to drink til dawn; and her little sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths), a sailor-mouthed eight-year-oldf who perhaps gives the standout performance of the entire film, plays dress-up and smokes cigarettes with her grade school friends. When Joanne brings home Connor (Michael Fassbender), it seems like he might actually be a good dude—he has a job, carries Mia up to bed when she falls asleep on the couch, plays games with Tyler, cleans the filthy house and, for the most part, makes Joanne happy enough to be nice to her kids for once. Between day trips to the country and dropping by Connor’s work to borrow a few bucks, Mia’s life seems to be on the upswing.

Connor takes a particular interest in Mia’s dancing. He loans her his video camera so she can send an audition tape into a strip club; he encourages her when she performs stiffly for him in the living room. At first it seems like innocent encouragement, but soon enough it gets a little creepy. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s bound to happen between Connor and Mia, but that doesn’t make their uncomfortable actions and cringe-worthy dialogue any less effective. And rest assured, it doesn’t end the way you thought it would.

There are slow moments of Fish Tank; over-lengthy shots of Mia in her sparse bedroom, long stretches sans dialogue, endless images of curtains blowing in a springy breeze. And while I noticed the silence and could have found it awkward, I instead relished in the visuals. Arnold impeccably furnished the dismal apartment, giving it an air of half-assed hopefulness. Night time scenes drag on, but instead of getting bored, watch Mia’s face, mascara-crusted eyelashes and all, as she listens to her mother and Connor having sex down the hall. When Mia and her maybe-boyfriend Billy sit awkwardly on couch cushions on the floor of the chilly-looking “dance studio,” the silence would be deafening were it not for the shared beer can and a few strange shared glances.

The biggest question the movie raises is—Is every soul worth saving? Mia isn’t very nice. She’s pretty, but not a supermodel. She’s not incredibly talented. She is strong, but doesn’t have much of a life’s purpose. She could rise above her current state, but would anything ever make her happy? There’s no telling, of course, and the answer is probably no, but Arnold directs a visual masterpiece in telling her sad story.

Fish Tank is currently playing at The Screen (1600 St. Michael’s Drive, 473-6494).

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:02 am

http://allophelia.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/movie-of-the-month/

18 Mar
movie of the month

meant to write the same post last month but didn’t have a chance to. i’m gonna write about it later. guess i’m gonna start doing this in regular basis. and this month’s goes to
Fish Tank (2009)

i always love films that go to festivals for the reason that they tell good stories, reveal beautiful cinematography, and aren’t afraid to be idealist. Fish Tank won a lot of awards including British Independent Film Award, Chicago International Film Festival, and Edinburgh International Film Festival. looking at the front cover you’d be amazed with so many stars posted and probably couldn’t wait to watch.

it’s about a fifteen-year-old girl named Mia who’s in constant war with her family and surrounding. she’s also excluded from school and wanted by social department to be put in a progressive school. her only outlet of emotion is street dance which she secretly performs in a deserted flat. her life is so bleak until she meets her mother’s new boyfriend, Connor. he’s such a charming family-man who instantly steals Mia’s attention and heart.

Fish Tank is seriously good and moving. it made my heart stopped and skipped a beat constantly. the kind of feeling like what Mia feels about Connor always melts me. the way a girl falls for a man quietly and drowns secretly in his heartbeat, breath and the smell of his eau de toilette… the kind of feeling that makes a girl walk across town just to meet him and go and be a detective to find out things about him behind his back… somewhere around love, admiration, passion, longing…

Katie Jarvis (Mia) and Michael Fassbender (Connor) play emotionally great in it and it’s such a treat for the ears to listen to the conversation in such thick suburban English accent and lots of hip hop and R&B music all the way. i love Mia’s strength and independence, like the world can’t move her if she doesn’t allow it to. and, of course, because she’s not a typical common girl. love the way she dresses! Connor kills me because he is super charming! i might understand what Mia feels. he’s so good to be with. so comforting and nice. i’ve seen Fassbender in Hunger, 300, and Inglorious Basterds, but none of the characters he plays in them kill me. not until he becomes Connor. dammit.

personally, i love this movie because i can “understand” it.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:33 pm

http://thediamondsinthedirt.blogspot.com/2010/03/fish-tank.html

THE DIAMONDS IN THE DIRT

fish tank
7:49 PM Dorrian


last night, i sat down to watch the latest movie from director andrea arnold, "fish tank."

i had been desperate to see the film for months after being blown away by arnold's previous venture, "red road".

like her previous film, "fish tank" deals with the lower class of british society, whose tales are often left to the confinements of the jeremy kyle show on a weekday morning. "fish tank" tells the story of 15 year old outsider mia, who lives on a tough essex council estate with her equally rebellious younger sister and volatile mother, played brilliantly by kierston wareing. mia dreams of a way out of her banal existence and pursuing her dream of being a street dancer.
with the arrival of her mother's new boyfriend, played by an always wonderful michael fassbender, mia's world looks set to change forever.

arnold's talent as a director and storyteller is astounding, her unflinching approach to showcase the harsh reality of britain is certainly admirable, we may not want to admit it but stories such as mia's exist and deserve their place in the world too.

like "red road" before it, the use of lighting and imagery in "fish tank" is breathtaking, you are immediately drawn in and literally feel as if you are a fly on the cigarette stained wall.

the way arnold builds her characters is nothing short of remarkable, complex and seemingly unlikeable as they may be, you cannot help but pray that a happy ending is around the corner.

however, the real revelation in "fish tank" is the performance of newcomer, katie jarvis. discovered by a casting agent while screaming at her boyfriend across a railway station platform, jarvis instills all the emotional depth needed for our protagonist, a girl who knows all to well about having an ambition cast aside.

i highly recommend rushing out for your copy of "fish tank" and witness the very best that british cinema has to offer.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:26 pm

http://popcultureguy-don.blogspot.com/2010/03/indie-spotlight-fish-tank-2009.html

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Indie Spotlight - Fish Tank (2009)
One of the things I enjoy most about Independent films is the originality that is inherent is so many of them. For example, the movie Fish Tank is certainly original, but it is doubtful that mainstream audiences will embrace a film that seemingly meanders around for much of its two hour run time. Usually, the “down time” would bother me, but in this case, it works.

The meandering around that I was referring to is focused on Mia (Katie Jarvis), a 15 year old girl who spends a good deal of time walking around, getting into trouble and dancing. Not much is said in those scenes, but they are important because they show a girl trying to forge her identity as well as her attempts at fitting into society. Mia feels like an outcast and because of her less than perfect home life, she struggles with intimacy. The intimacy issue if made even more challenging because of her burgeoning sexuality, along with her attraction to her mother’s boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender). Connor senses Mia’s attraction and does little to curb it. He seems to enjoy the attention, but the ramifications of their potential pairing could cause serious problems between Mia and her mother. Of course, their relationship is far from idyllic to begin with.

Like many teenagers, Mia struggles with her emotions, but she has more to deal with than most of her peers. However, she appears to be intelligent as well as talented and underneath all of the hurt that she carries around is a potentially wonderful person. All she really needs is love and understanding to fully become the person she is destined to be. Viewers know that Mia has a kind heart, as she tries to free a horse that always appears to be chained up and has not chance to run around and be free. Perhaps she felt a kindred spirit in the animal.

While I was not familiar with any of the cast members, I was impressed with the almost all of the performances. In fact, Katie Jarvis made her acting debut in this film and she delivers a solid, believable performance, as Mia. In addition, Michael Fassbender is well cast as heartthrob Connor, who loves the ladies. Rounding out the cast is Kierston Wareing as Mia’s mother, Joanne, and Rebecca Griffiths as Tyler, Mia’s younger sister. The performances from the three female cast members make the dysfunctional dynamic between mother and daughter(s) feel very authentic.

Fish Tank is not for everyone. However, if you are tired of seeing the same old recycled plots that appear in so many mainstream films and have the patience to sit through a two hour film that does not spoon feed you the entire time, then you may very well enjoy this film.

Grade - B
Posted by Don at 12:22 PM

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:23 pm

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/03/19/1537305/fish-tank.html

Posted on Friday, 03.19.10

By COLIN COVERT
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

The most honored British film of 2010 is Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank," and rightly so. The Cannes Jury Prize winner is an intimate look at teen alienation and first love in an English tenement.

Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a scrappy 15-year-old living with her young, neglectful single mom and foul-mouthed little sister, a family unit where "I hate you" is a tender emotional exchange. Mom's new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender, unrecognizable as the suave spy from "Inglourious Basterds") looks as if he might be a positive influence. He treats everyone tenderly and encourages Mia to follow her dream of being a dancer. Director Arnold plays their evolving relationship for every ounce of suspense as the hormonal girl and the ruggedly handsome newcomer move from friendship into more treacherous waters.

The characters are guarded, and as we come to understand them scene by scene, they become ever harder to sort into convenient categories of hero and villain. Mia is a delinquent in the making; with love and attention, she softens, but that vulnerability comes at a cost.

The film is a strong addition to the English filmmaking tradition of welfare-class humanist melancholy where the state of the dishes in the kitchen sink tells us all we need to know about the emotional arc of the characters. Arnold gives us reason to hope that once Mia escapes the fish tank of her shabby council flat she will learn to swim in open water, but she provides no guarantees.

FISH TANK

3 stars

Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender

Directed by: Andrea Arnold

Unrated

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:54 pm

http://screenaddict.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/fish-tank-2/

FISH TANK

Fish Tank
d. Andrea Arnold / UK / 2009 / 123 mins
Viewed at: Lecture Theatre 1 @ UEA (Norwich, UK)

Still from Fish Tank

I think I made it pretty clear in my original entry on Fish Tank, just how much I admire this film, so – much like my second post on Sleep Furiously – this is more of an augmentation, a reflection on the subtleties that I seemed to have missed the first time around, or for which I simply didn’t find the space or inclination to discuss.

For starters, there is a whole contextualising sub-plot which is only alluded to in unsuccessful phone calls, photographs and steely sideways glances: the fractured relationship between Mia and her best friend. That this eventuates before the film even starts, and yet seems – in some ways at least – to drive the entire narrative, is rather interesting. It could have easily formed the basis for a much more generic teen drama, but writer/director Andrea Arnold simply lets it play out, adding further colour to a deceptively simple, yet heavily intricate set of narrative circumstances.

Last time around, I mentioned the ‘totalistic humanity’ of the characters in Fish Tank, and further to Arnold’s seeming desire to not apportion blame on any singular factor (as is often the want of the cinematic arts), the marginalisation of this narrative thread only adds to the multiplicity of circumstances that make Mia who she is, and cause her to act the way she does, whilst emphasising Arnold’s admirably non-judgmental approach.

Of course, adding to this complexity is the sheer strength of Mia as a character. Although highly compromised by her occasionally violent attitudes, she remains the most resolute of a cast of markedly irresolute characters, and her strength is drawn largely from the choices she makes for herself. This is particularly true in the ‘audition’ scene (and her decision not to dance), as well as the point at which she concedes to her mother’s anger in the penultimate scene by choosing to dance with her, rather than fight.

Mia’s decision to contradict her mother’s harsh parting words with a wordless act of emotional honesty, is closely related to a tendency towards the expression of what I would call violent affection. The contradictory approach to expressing love or respect is most evident when Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) – Mia’s younger sister – addresses Conner (Michael Fassbender) with affectionate menace: “I like you. I’ll kill you last.”

Similarly, in the final scene, as the sisters embrace after they have danced with their mother, Tyler utters an affectionate, yet sarcastic “I hate you”, to which Mia replies, “I hate you too”. Again, there is no doubt that these characters are expressing a genuine sisterly affection, but it also seems clear that years of mutual emotional abuse has meant that, as much as they love each other, the only way this love can be expressed is through the sarcastic use of negative language. It is, again, a kind of violent affection.

Another element of Fish Tank which I think I left unmentioned was its particular use of aspect ratio. By opting for an almost square, television-esque 4:3 frame, Arnold (and her long-serving DOP Robbie Ryan) serve to heighten the physical and emotional containment imposed upon these characters.

Everywhere we look, they are trapped in ‘outdated’ boxes (from the Essex ‘new towns’, to the housing estates, and – metaphorically, at least – the dimensions of the screen). Subconsciously, the shape of the frame also implies a certain ‘reality’, a televisual ‘truth’ that is somehow absent from the usual, escapist, ultra-widescreen fantasies of the average motion picture.

If you haven’t yet seen Fish Tank, I highly recommend you do. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but it will certainly prove to be thought provoking for even the most ardent escapist moviegoer.

Also, I should mention that Fish Tank won (and thoroughly deserved) the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film a month or so back, and I really wanted to conclude with Andrea Arnold’s excellent, excellent acceptance speech. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it anywhere online (not even in text form – it’s the only acceptance speech missing from BAFTA’s own list of transcripts, which is odd). Anyway, we’ll have to make do with this equally interesting post-award interview:

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:27 pm

http://thetfs.ca/2010/03/22/review-fish-tank/

Review: Fish Tank

Posted by Lucas Nochez on March 22, 2010 · Leave a Comment

I could count in my head until my brain goes numb the amount of coming-of-age stories I have seen within the last couple of years. Being a somewhat young lad, I have come to the realization now that coming-of-age stories are not stories that are usually meant to relate to your own upbringing completely — that’s absurd. Rather these stories should be a parable used to challenge adolescent individuals to make decisions that would better their condition towards becoming adults. In Fish Tank, director Andrea Arnold should write the book on coming-of-age films because it ranks as one of the most memorable young, tormented stories in recent years.

What Fish Tank brings to the genre as opposed to those other white-washed, hormone driven Hollywood productions is the honesty of its characters, the rawness of the narrative, and the sincerity of the performances.

Katie Jarvis plays Mia, a 15-year-old teen living in the outskirts of Essex, England. Mia, unfortunately, is a lost, uneducated and bitter young girl living with her chain-smoking mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing). Although Mia lives with her mother and her sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths), Mia is hardly at home and wanders around Essex like an uncontrollable tidal wave. We see in the film that Mia’s only sense of solace is hip-hop dancing along with a new lover that her mother brings home after a long night of drinking Connor (Michael Fassbender). With the introduction to Connor, Arnold undoubtedly wants the audience to have a strong sense of an emerging paternal figure in Mia’s life. Throughout the film there is no denying Connor’s will to fill the role. Through bonding scenes of fishing, tucking the girls into bed and being a productive listener to the girls in times of need, Connor gains the quick trust of a naïve Mia. Although most people could see where this is going, I find myself unable to give away any spoilers. The climax of the film, although predictable, finds itself treading water at an incredibly fast-pace.

The film is a success for many reasons. Jarvis is an acting revelation (cast in a chance meeting while arguing with her boyfriend in a subway). Although the young actress is a mother in reality and appears to be a mere reflection of the little girl she plays on screen, it seems as though the fine line between reality and fantasy in film is expressed in such a grungy, yet artful film if solely through her character.

Coming out of Cannes, snatching up the Jury Prize and being a unanimous critical success, Fish Tank is a reflective film that is short of preaching but strong on practice. It concerns youth with essential lessons of practicing their goals, following their dreams and not being scared to find themselves lost like a fish in an ocean. Director and screenwriter Arnold encourages audience members to get their feet wet, and the film itself is a nice little introduction to some of the best independent features screening throughout festival circuits.

Fish Tank is an intoxicating film about the realities of hardship in the life of teens. Even though many may be cynical to see the situation of Mia as an extremity, the film touches base with reality constantly. It is not a feminist picture pleading for recognition, it is not a glamorized rags to riches story, but most of all it is a sure fire bet to be mentioned beside other revolutionary coming-of-age of stories such as François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. However, like The 400 Blows, be warned! Unlike other seasoned Hollywood prodigies, Arnold refuses to provide any happy endings for the audience and the protagonist. It’s a poignant tale of seduction and facing the real world. Don’t get confused by the sweet voice of Bobby Womack’s California Dreamin’ that provides the soundtrack from end to finish, because Fish Tank is no American dream.

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