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Reviews and SPOILERS

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:12 pm

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

22 March 2010
Review: "Fish Tank"
Fish Tank was not released in North America until February 2010, though there was much mention of the film during the fall Oscar campaigning season. The film is directed by Andrea Arnold, who won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short in 2005 for her film Wasp. Her first feature length film, Red Road (2006) is the first of a planned trilogy by first-time directors, conceived by Danish experimental director Lars von Trier. Fish Tank premiered at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival in May 2009, where it won the Jury Prize. While it was not in contention for any awards in North American, Fish Tank won the 2010 BAFTA award for Outstanding British Film, beating such highly regarded films as An Education and In The Loop. The film's trailer and promotion make the film seem like a British Step Up, when in reality it has more similarities to London to Brighton. The film's star, Katie Jarvis, was reportedly asked to audition for the film after one of the film's casting agents saw her having a heater argument with a boyfriend at a train station. The film belongs to Katie Jarvis, and Fish Tank is her highly emotional roller coaster ride. In her very first acting role it is amazing that this young girl acts with so much humility and maturity.

Mia Williams (Jarvis) is a fifteen year-old girl who lives in a public housing apartment with her single-mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing) and her young sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) in Essex. Her mother is often drunk, and Mia spends time fighting with girls in town and has a verbally abusive relationship with her sister. We see Mia make several attempts to rescue a malnourished horse, eventually angering its owners. She is saved by a boy named Billy (Harry Treadaway) and the two become friends. At home her mother brings home her newest boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender). He becomes a real father figure to the two girls, and Mia's mood is heightened by his presence. He encourages her dancing and helps her with the necessary preparations for an audition. The sexual tension between Mia and Connor builds because Mia is often walking around the house in her underwear and caught her mother having sex with him. One night Mia and Connor go too far and this leads to some unpleasant truths, leading Mia to question her future and make a life changing decision.

Unfortunately, Fish Tank is similar to a lot of British films that I have seen. The bleak cinematography and lower-class characters seems to be a staple of British cinema. works because it focuses so tightly on Mia. As viewers we are emotionally invested in her future and Katie Jarvis plays the part so well that we remain affected long after the film ends. The film does not give away its secrets easily, and many questions remain unanswered. I love when a film leaves you guessing and speculating. Fish Tank is not as remarkable as I had expected, but it features a convincing performance by Katie Jarvis. After reading about the film I found that Katie Jarvis, at only 18 years of age, lived an impoverished life much like her character and left home at a young age. She has given birth to a child and it seems that escaping this life will be even harder for it. It is reminiscent of the film Precious, and how many wrongly assumed that Gabourey Sidibe had a childhood like her character.

My rating: 3 stars out of 4.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:49 pm

http://tvnz.co.nz/entertainment-news/fish-tank-movie-review-3429272

Fish Tank: Movie Review

Published: 2:43PM Tuesday March 23, 2010

By tvnz.co.nz's Darren Bevan

Source:

Fish Tank

Rating: 7/10

Cast: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Griffiths, Kierston Wareing

Director: Andrea Arnold

This British film about a 15 year old girl on a council estate has had accolades hurled at it left, right and centre in the UK.

Showing as part of the World Cinema Showcase, it's the story of Mia (brilliantly played by newcomer Katie Jarvis) and her life in the "fish tank" of her world.

Mia's an angry outsider, scornful of the other girls around her and more likely to let loose a tirade of foul mouthed language than try to fit in. In her grey tracksuit, she's a snapshot of many UK teens who feel their lives are going nowhere.

But her world changes one day when her mother brings home a new boyfriend, Connor (Inglourious Basterds' Michael Fassbender) - she's intrigued by this stranger, and the scales fall from her eyes and she starts to see a life outside of her own small world.

There's a certain degree of inevitability to this story - you can see what's coming a mile off; but what you can't see is how powerful the central performance by Katie Jarvis is. She's brilliantly captured the futility and anger of the teen years as she deals with one disappointment after another. However, when she meets Connor, thanks to a multi layered and subtle performance you start to warm up to this lower class ladette as you're drawn into her life.

It's unusual to recommend a film because of one person - but Fish Tank is that film. It rises because of Katie Jarvis' performance and marks out the fact she will be a talent to watch in the future.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:50 pm

http://english.ohmynews.com/ArticleView/article_sangview.asp?menu=c10400&no=386013&rel_no=1

Fish Tank
Directed by Andrea Arnold (2009)

Howard Schumann (howard16)

The poet Rumi said, “A rose's rarest essence lives in the thorn.” The thorn is in full evidence in Andrea Arnold’s compellingly honest second feature Fish Tank, the story of a fifteen year-old girl’s struggle for self respect after having “grown up absurd” in the London projects. “Fish Tank”, a film that is overflowing with life, works on many levels ? as a look into squalid economic and social conditions in small town Britain, as a warning to those who act impulsively and without self-control, and as a coming-of-age story that allows us to experience a genuine sense of character growth. Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, the film features an astounding performance from first-time actress Katie Jarvis, a 17-year-old who was discovered by the director while having an argument with her boyfriend on an Essex train station platform.

Set in a bleak housing project in a working class London suburb, fifteen-year-old Mia is an angry, isolated but vulnerable teen who lives with her boozy mom (Kierston Wareing) and little sister Tyler (an adorable Rebecca Griffiths). Mia has no friends and is dogged by a mean-spirited mother who makes Mo’Nique in “Precious” look like Mother Teresa. Filled with barely controlled rage, Mia seems uncertain as to whether she is looking for a fight or for sex. She goes from head-butting a rival on the playground to struggling to free a half-starved horse tied up in a junkyard while cozying up to the horse’s owner Billy (Harry Treadway), a gentle 19-year-old who seems genuinely interested.

Dreaming of becoming a dancer, Mia breaks into an abandoned apartment and practices her hip-hop dance routines alone to borrowed CDs of pop music including “California Dreaming”, the only time when she can feel good about herself. Mia’s first taste of something resembling kindness happens when her mother brings home a sexy, shirtless Irish lover named Connor (Michael Fassbender) who works as a security guard Fassbender’s performance oscillates between the charming and the shady and we do not know who is real and who is pretend and where it will lead. Mia has more than a passing interest in him, revealed by her deep glances and facial expressions.

When Connor lends Mia his camera to film her dancing in preparation for an audition, she uses it to spy on Connor and her mom making love. One of the loveliest scenes is when Connor carries a drunken Mia from the living room and puts her to bed, gently taking off her clothes while Mia, pretending to be asleep, sneaks an occasional peak and is obviously enjoying the moment. Although Connor’s interest in Mia appears innocent, from the time Mia cuts her foot on a family fishing trip and Connor gives her a piggy back ride to the car, tension gradually builds until it explodes in a seduction that is not only inappropriate but has serious consequences.

“Fish Tank” is a strong and unpredictable film because Mia is a strong (though flawed) character who refuses to allow her miserable circumstances to control her life. Arnold uses the fierce slang of the streets, overt sexual encounters, and gritty hand-held camerawork to tell an authentic story of adolescence that in lesser hands might have recycled genre cliches, provided a falsely uplifting message, or offered a sentimentalized view of poverty. That the film opens the door long enough to provide a breath of fresh air once again tells us that life can be governed by what is possible rather than what is reasonable and “Fish Tank”, instead of becoming another sordid study of pathology, becomes an exhilarating dance of liberation.

A
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:11 pm

http://npaper-wehaa.com/yes-weekly/2010/03/23/#?article=806279

Writer/director Andrea Arnold’s award-winning Fish Tank (opening this Friday) is the latest in a recent string of hard-edged coming-of-age tales as seen through the eyes and experiences of a young girl. In most cases — Abbie Cornish (Somersault), Carey Mulligan (An Education) and Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe (Precious) — these films have launched the careers of their leading ladies.

Fish Tank isn’t as severe as Precious, but the tone of this story falls nearer to it than the relatively genteel An Education. This is not a happy picture, nor one to be taken lightly.

Nor, fortunately, is it heavy-handed, thanks in large part to Katie Jarvis, cast in the pivotal role of Mia, an angry, rebellious and, as it turns out, highly vulnerable 15-year-old girl around whom the story revolves.

Mia likes hip-hop music and horses, but she doesn’t much like people and she certainly doesn’t trust them, particularly her slatternly mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing) who, judging by her appearance, wasn’t much older than Mia was when she had her. Mia also has a younger sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths), who’s developing her own hardened heart. (Mia’s father is barely mentioned, and it’s almost a surprise when someone calls her by her last name — Williams — near the end of the film.)

Exacerbating the tension between daughter and mother is Joanne’s new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender), a younger man whose mere presence clearly hints at trouble.

Jarvis, who had never acted before, has already reaped awards and accolades for her debut performance, but she receives solid support throughout by Wareing, Griffiths and Fassbender, all of whom perform credibly. Even when Fish Tank veers into familiar territory — which it does — the consistently fine quality of the acting keeps the story from lapsing into the routine.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:16 pm

http://boyinabox61.blogspot.com/2010/03/fish-tank-featured-film-of-interest.html

Thursday, March 25, 2010
Fish Tank - Featured Film of Interest
Release date: In Cinemas Friday!
Certificate: 15
Running time: 124 mins
Official UK website: www.fishtankmovie.com

Premier PR online and Artificial Eye are pleased to make available the trailer, new one sheet poster, images, production notes, official UK website and social network links for FISH TANK, in UK cinemas Friday.

FISH TANK is Academy Award-winning writer and director Andrea Arnold's second feature following her 2006 Cannes Jury Prize winner, Red Road. The film was selected for the Official Competition at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Jury Prize.

In FISH TANK, 15 year old Mia's life is turned on its head when her mum brings home a new boyfriend. Arnold casts the same unflinching, unprejudiced gaze and touches on the themes of her Oscar-winning short Wasp to create an original and unsettling tale for our age.

Following his acclaimed central performance in Hunger, Michael Fassbender (300, Inglourious Basterds) stars opposite talented newcomer Katie Jarvis. Rounding out the principal cast are BAFTA-nominated Kierston Wareing(Ken Loach’s It's a Free World), Harry Treadaway (Control, Brothers of the Head) and 12 year old Rebecca Griffiths making her film debut.

Produced by Kees Kasander (Prospero's Books, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover) and Nick Laws, and executive produced by Paul Trijbits (Ruby Films) and Christine Langan and David M Thompson for BBC Films, FISH TANK was shot entirely on location in the UK.
Posted by tod gorman at 12:17 PM
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:05 am

http://getafilm.blogspot.com/2010/03/getafilm-gallimaufry-prophet-fish-tank.html

Fish Tank (B+)

I'd been looking forward to Fish Tank for a while after positive buzz followed it everywhere it played in 2009, but I became even more interested when I figured out that it was written and directed by Andrea Arnold (whose previous film Red Road I have heard much about but not yet seen) and it starred Michael Fassbender.

Two things I know now after seeing Fish Tank: 1. I must see Red Road; and 2.) It's confirmed - Michael Fassbender is now a must-see, on-the-verge-of-a-breakout actor. Much as I'm completely uninterested in this summer's Jonah Hex, if anyone can make it watchable it will be him.

Impossibly, he's not even the best actor in this movie. That crown belongs to newcomer Katie Jarvis as Mia, the 15 year-old troubled, troublesome teen who spends her days dancing, drinking, and, eventually, fantasizing about being rescued from her life by Fassbender's character (as far as acting debuts go, this is the most impressive I've seen since Tahar Rahim in A Prophet, whom I did not recognize above). Mia is the anti-Juno MacGuff: she looks, walks, talks, and generally acts like a teenager, which is actually refreshing in this age of ironically mature teen characters. Makes you long for the teenage immaturity on display in John Hughes movies, doesn't?

The third act of Fish Tank was predictable and tonally awkward for me, but it did not ruin what is an otherwise engaging, contemporary coming-of-age story. And, anytime you close a movie with a song by a rarely used artist like Nas, well you know I'll leave satisfied.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:11 am

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10085/1045690-120.stm

Review: A teenager's troubled life sloshes around in 'Fish Tank'
Friday, March 26, 2010
By Barbara Vancheri, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

At the BAFTA Awards, "The Hurt Locker" took the top film prize, but "Fish Tank" was singled out as outstanding British film, elbowing aside better-known movies such as "An Education."

Opening today at Downtown's Harris Theater, it bears some similarities with other top films of 2009 and, like "Precious," boasts a breakout performance. Here, it's from 17-year-old Katie Jarvis, who had no acting experience before she was spotted arguing with her boyfriend at a railway station in Tilbury, England.

A wary girl, she didn't believe she was being asked to audition for a movie and initially refused to hand over her phone number. She ended up being cast as 15-year-old Mia, the older of two daughters who live with their young, single mother in an apartment in impersonal projects in Essex.

Mia is a bundle of angry energy; she seems as if she could spontaneously combust from the rage, resentment, disappointment and confusion that course just below the surface.

She head-butts a girl, tries to free an ancient white horse incongruously and symbolically chained up nearby and, when her mother (Kierston Wareing) asks, "What's wrong with you?" spits back. "You're what's wrong with me!"

Mia has a history of trouble in school, and she and her younger sister exchange potty-mouthed insults. The only time she seems at peace is when she's alone, in an unoccupied apartment, with her music and her hip-hop moves.

Her life changes when her mother brings home a handsome stranger named Connor (Michael Fassbender, who played the British film critic turned spy in "Inglourious Basterds"). When he's around, the air increasingly crackles with sexual tension, and he opens up Mia's world, in ways welcome and unwelcome, feeding her fury and her desperate need for freedom.

"You need sortin' out, you do," Connor tells Mia. "So, you keep saying, but you're nothing to me so why should I listen?" she challenges.

Although some of "Fish Tank," written and directed by Andrea Arnold, seems familiar, Ms. Jarvis does not. Late in the movie, she is in the middle of harrowing scenes that could tip to tragic all too easily, and she handles them like a seasoned performer.

The filmmaker told a London reporter that the title was a good metaphor for the film set inside a claustrophobic flat because even a tiny fish tank can bubble with a lot of life, and that is certainly the case here. Others suggest the apartment building's expanse of windows give it a fish tank look.

Ms. Arnold sets the mood with light, both natural and artificial, spilling through the windows, and music. Two exquisitely chosen songs will run through your head after: Bobby Womack's "California Dreamin' " and Nas' "Life's a Bitch."

My only complaint: The accents are so thick that, at times, a few lines of dialogue escaped me. But don't let that stop you from peering into this "Fish Tank," spilling over with adults, teens and tweens struggling to breathe and burst free.

'Fish Tank'

3 1/2 stars = Very good
Ratings explained

* Starring: Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Michael Fassbender.
* Rating: Not rated but R in nature for language, nudity and sexual content.
* Web site: 'Fish Tank'
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:02 am

http://allmediareviews.blogspot.com/2010/03/fish-tank-20092010.html

Friday, March 26, 2010
Fish Tank (2009/2010)

The "coming of age" adage that this movie is given does make sense to a point. Katie Jarvis plays the lead character Mia, and focus of this movie; ultimately she does "come of age" but with a lot of angles and hurdles to get by.

This movie is realistic and dark. Her character lives with her lackadaisical mother and kid sister. Both of whom don't have concern of the language they use nor the things they put in their body (the younger sister in 1 scene is seen with a friend smoking a cigarette, and she's maybe 9 or 10 years old).

Mia does not have many friends really. She is shown calling pre-sumably 1 of them early on in the story, but we never meet this friend.

She likes to dance, hip-hop primarily. She even watches, criticizes and ends up head-butting 1 of the girls dancing in her neighborhood. Pretty much of the feeling she's a far superior dancer. I suppose it's an ego-boost to her.

She wants to free this tied up horse, but isn't actually able to, due to the people who have it chained up being shady and when they find her, they end up roughing her up. She is lucky to get away from them more or less unscarred.

Probably the most compelling character in the movie is her mum's new boyfriend Connor, played by Michael Fassbender who she ends up bonding with
in a few ways, even after she criticizes him, more or less due to seeing him with her mum. But later, that feeling is gone when he helps with her dance audition and ends up making a pass at her successfully.

We come to learn he has an ex and a daughter. She breaks in to their place and sees video footage of his young daughter and I would guess partially out of jealousy and partially of anger for him fleeing her (and her mum I suppose) she sort of kidnaps the daughter and actaully ends up pushing her in the water. But her sense and heart is good enough not to abandon the much younger girl.

I sense to a point what she did with the daughter was similar to what she did with the horse; wanting to set them free. A bit like her own situation not wanting to go off to some boarding school her mother is trying to send her to basically out of lack of responsibility on both her own and mum's part.

Kierston Wareing is good in this role, although quite different than in It's a Free World the other thing I saw her in. I suppose in a way I felt she was a little underused, but the film's focus is on Jarvis, so I follow why.

83/100
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:52 pm

http://t2onlineage10.blogspot.com/2010/03/rotten-tomatoes-our-review-on-fish-tank.html

Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Rotten Tomatoes, Our review on fish tank:

Rotten tomatoes is a website that is used by critics and members of the general public to express their opinions and review media that is on the market. The staff of rotten tomato then determine for each review whether it is positive ("fresh", marked by a small icon of a red tomato) or negative ("rotten", marked by a small icon of a green splatted tomato). At the end of the year one film will receive the "Golden Tomato", meaning it is the highest rating film that year.

Our review for the Film, Fish Tank is as follows, we have uploaded this review on the website:

Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank is a contemporary film that has been produced in a lower, working class, poverty driven area in Essex. The film is set in your stereotypical council estate block of flats, where the lack of support and fundings for a teenagers upbringing is evident.

We are seeing the world from 16 year old Mia's eyes. Her performance in this film successfully reflected the producers aim as it portrays her desperation to pursue her dream of dancing without the support from anybody. Living with her younger sister and young, party animal, mother we are able to see there are distinct barriers between them and Mia clearly receives no support or love at home. Along with this we see the lack of education that Mia receives and thus the lack of support from there. The representation of a British working class family, i feel is inaccurate as within the film we see the working class family represented as a unsupported lazy and rude culture with a lack of direction in life. We see no effort from the characters to succeed seeing as Mia a 16 year old girl not in education instead she is drinking and smoking with her younger siblings. I believe this isnt true to all working families in Britain but does represent the minority, we see Mia's mother sleeping around with her other men until she finds a man, Connor (Michael Fassbender) who promises to bring love and support to the family. He offers the possibility of hope to Mia as he supports her love of dancing, providing a video camera for her to film an audition for a dance competition. Unfortunately Connor deems to be bad news for the family as he sleeps with the naive 16 year old. Mia's neglectant alcoholic mother is ignorant to the fact that any of this has occured and falls into the self pity mode. Mia is given a tiny opportunity to escape this viscous, continuous cycle that surrounds her when a male friend she has made offers to take her away.

Although this film captured us and allowed us to try and relate to Mia, warming to her lost, lonely character in the meantime I believe the storyline is quite vague and the leads within the story aren't followed up. It doesn't ever seem to get anywhere and we are left saying to ourselves, What was the point in that?

Posted by A2 Media Studies at 03:34
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:03 pm

http://bestforfilm.com/2010/03/30/fish-tank/

Fish Tank

Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender

Director: Andrea Arnold

Release Date: Jan 25th 2010
Certificate: 15
Broken Britain

An undeniably bleak snapshot of adolescence in ‘Broken Britain’, the critically acclaimed and BAFTA award-winning Fish Tank is a thoroughly captivating experience from start to finish. Centred upon the character of Mia Williams, Fish Tank offers much more than the usual gritty portrayal of teenage life in urban Britain.

Newcomer Katie Jarvis excels in the role of Mia, a discontented, high rise-dwelling, ASBO-baiting teenager with a penchant for super-strength lager and street dancing. With the early breaking of a rival girl’s nose swiftly demonstrating Mia’s lust for violence, the audience is instantly introduced to director Andrea Arnold’s realistic depiction of the rigours of growing up in an Essex council estate.

Seemingly neglected by her alcoholic mother, Mia’s life appears to take a turn for the good when her mother brings home a new man, the affable Connor (Michael Fassbender). Appearing to provide a sense of stability and normality to the Williams’ household, Connor’s seemingly innocent paternal interest in the unruly 15-year-old swiftly descends into an unhealthy mutual sexual attraction. One night’s tête-à-tête inevitably descends into foolish drunken frolics, with Connor’s subsequent departure throwing both mother and daughter into heart-wrenching turmoil and disarray. Angered by his betrayal, Mia successfully traces Connor’s location, and is devastated to find that he has a wife and child.

Disillusioned, Mia seeks solace in the in the arms of her friend Billy (Harry Treadaway). Having consoled her, Billy puts forth an enticing proposition and Mia is forced to re-evaluate her life.
Sink or Swim

Jarvis’ stunning histrionics steal the show in Fish Tank. Cast after being spotted having an argument with her boyfriend at Tilbury Railway station, Jarvis manages to powerfully and passionately replicate the vast repertoire of emotions felt by confused, disaffected teenagers without indulging in crude cliché. Arnold’s clever first-person use of the troubled teenager invites the audience to empathise with Mia with the greatest of ease. Similarly, Fassbender’s portrayal of a confused, lustful man is excellent, and the unsettlingly awkward on-screen chemistry exhibited between Fassbender and Jarvis cunningly adds to the authenticity of the film’s feel.

A surprise hit of 2010, Fish Tank emphatically proves that it is worth all the accolades that have been bestowed upon it. The film is dark and poignant, and Jarvis’ acting debut is a cinematic treat. If you’re seeking an intriguing and mesmerising British film, you could do a helluva lot worse than watching Fish Tank.

Check out the trailer for Fish Tank here
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Pilar on Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:09 pm

greyeyegoddess wrote:

One of the loveliest scenes is when Connor carries a drunken Mia from the living room and puts her to bed, gently taking off her clothes while Mia, pretending to be asleep, sneaks an occasional peak and is obviously enjoying the moment.



I would love to see that....
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:18 am

http://chattarati.com/culture/graphic-visual/2010/4/1/fish-tank-barely-bubbles/

Film Review | 'Fish Tank' Barely Bubbles
By Jess Snyder | April 1, 2010, 10:42 a.m.

A subtle coming-of-age story, Fish Tank, follows Mia Williams (Katie Jarvis), 15, around and around her little world as she bumps into the same corners every day. Her mother—a sexy, peroxided alcoholic played by Kierston Wareing—doesn’t understand her; her little sister Tyler steals the limelight (when there is any); she’s avoiding school; she has no friends; she has nothing to do. But Mia dances. She spends her free time (and works out her angsty emotions) in a vacant apartment above the city learning the moves she watches in music videos.

Enter Mom’s new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender)—the first person to give Mia positive attention and recognize her dance talent. As he breaks the family out of their angry patterns and shows them new things (fishing by hand and Bobby Womack), Mia fights simultaneous attraction and repulsion.

Eventually, though, Connor’s secrets come out. Mom goes to bed; Tyler becomes anxious and petulant; Mia goes out for answers. And revenge.

I found Fish Tank to be a little meandering. Writer/director Andrea Arnold gets a few points for plot twists, but nothing that will knock your socks off. (You have to know I enjoy being entertained – me and “willing suspension of disbelief” are best friends). Arnold's visual parallels between Mia in her Fish Tank and animals in captivity were succinct and well-executed. But kudos go to Robbie Ryan, cinematographer. His scene transitions are subtle and clever (if you see it, look for mirrors, birds, a liquor bottle). And his eye for lighting the unusual is sharp; The best scene was Mia dancing to Bobby Womack’s “California Dreamin’,” the orange safety lighting playing on her skin, and the proximity of the camera to her body.

The single alarm came about midway as Mia was changing her mind about Connor—again. No really! The screen went blank, two strobes went off, and a kind, automated voice said, “There has been a fire reported in the building. Please leave immediately.” I can't remember the last time a movie was interrupted by a good old-fashioned fire drill.

This was my first visit to the new Majestic 12 theater on Broad Street. I wasn’t pleased with the prices (call me cheap—an AEC Film Club Card will fix that!), but I was quite pleased with the showtimes (later is always better in my book). My friend and I shared the theater with one gent and (aside from the fire alarm) were quite comfortably ensconced for the duration of the show.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:57 am

http://mcneilmatinee.blogspot.com/2010/04/review-fish-tank-12.html

Thursday, April 1, 2010
Review: FISH TANK * * * 1/2

You have to respect people who aren't content with being dealt a crap hand. There are lots of people living and working below their station, and fully aware of it. Some of them dig in and work as hard as they can to move up and move out. Others, unfortunately, kick just as hard at the gloominess their life has become...but do so without thinking it through.

Such impulsive behaviour is the driving force of FISH TANK - one surprisingly good Brit movie from 2009.

FISH TANK is the story of 15 year-old Mia (played by newcomer Katie Jarvis). She lives in a 'fish tank' apartment in Essex - the sort of building where one whole wall is windows. She is being raised by a single mum, who doesn't look like she was much older than fifteen when she had Mia, and is constantly bickering with her younger sister. Like many kids her age, Mia is antsy, and unfortunately it doesn't take long for this feeling of antsiness to start getting her into trouble.

When she's not getting into shoving matches with other girls in her neighbourhood, she's trying to free a horse chained up in a vacant lot nearby (a stunt that inevitably gets her jumped). She's the sort of girl who has starry-eyed dreams of being a dancer, but she can't even seem to chase down her dreams in an honest manner.

The bulk of her problems come from the home though, where her mother has a new boyfriend named Connor (Michael Fassbender). Mia's mother isn't exactly discreet about her relationship, so Mia and her sister have this man dropped into their lives quite suddenly. Mia, never one to miss a trick, greets him to the household by stealing money from his coat. After she gets to know him however, the two actually get along quite nicely. That lasts for about an hour until their association takes a rather bad turn.

What amazes me about FISH TANK is how unconcerned it is with explaining itself. We are quite literally dropped into the middle of Mia's life one day, seeing that she is isolated in restless - we aren't told why she is, we just know that she is. The film isn't concerned with spelling anything out, it instead points us towards the necessary information and lets us figure things out for ourselves.

What amazes me about the film is the overall unsettling tone. I couldn't help but feel for much of the film that I was somewhere I wasn't supposed to be. It felt like I'd wandered into the wrong part of town and started hanging around people who were minutes away from lighting one fuse or another. Not to say that such feelings of unease comes with crossing a class line - more that Mia's actions, and her relationship with Cameron kept me in a constant state of dread. Something always felt....."off".

For the second review in a row, it's a young actress who has my attention. This time the feat is even more impressive, given the lack of experience Katie Jarvis brings to the film. She has the sand of a lower class teen; the sort of girl whose mom isn't all that much older than she is, and has never known a home life that doesn't have neighbours densely wrapped on all sides. She's in absolutely every moment of this film and never loses our attention - impressive for a novice. Perhaps the reason why we're so enraptured with her, is because she never seems completely sure what she's going to do next.

It's one thing to watch a car wreck - it's something altogether different to watch a car do a few swerves and donuts before it hits the brick wall.

Perhaps this is what makes Mia's story in FISH TANK such a sad one. At fifteen years old, she's old enough to make some truly bad decisions, but not old enough to truly understand their implications. She didn't learn her lesson the first time, and continues on through her life as the girl with a hammer looking for a horse to free.

What did you think? Feel free to leave comments with any thoughts or reactions on FISH TANK.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 05, 2010 1:32 am

http://www.omaha.com/article/20100402/ENTERTAINMENT/704029852

Published Friday April 2, 2010
Teen’s amazing performance lights up ‘Fish Tank’

By Bob Fischbach

Combine the poverty and grit of “Precious” with the coming-of-age lessons found in “An Education,” and you get “Fish Tank,” a movie that could hold its own against either of those two best-picture Oscar nominees.

British director-screenwriter Andrea Arnold focuses her camera on 15-year-old Mia, who lives in a housing project high-rise on the outskirts of Essex. All elbows and anger, Mia can’t seem to talk to another person her mom, her little sister, a stranger without getting into a profanity-laced screaming match.

She’s been kicked out of school. She literally butts heads with the neighborhood girls. She drinks whatever she can get her hands on. Her retreats are either her room for a good sulk with the music cranked up, or a vacant apartment she breaks into to practice dancing.

Where’s her single mum during all this? Right there in their cluttered apartment, which more often than not is party central. Joanne (Kierston Wareing) looks like she had Mia at about Mia’s age. She’s happiest when her daughters are out of sight, though their being around doesn’t hold her back from smoking, drinking, screaming some pretty good profanities herself and bringing home men.

The latest is Connor (Michael Fassbender, “Inglourious Basterds”), a handsome bloke with a nice smile and a lean, muscular body who seems to take more of an interest in the girls than Joanne does. They’re too cynical to react with any warmth toward him, but you see that his small efforts a small picnic, a drive near a lake, little gifts, encouragement are ravenously consumed by kids starved for attention or the simplest of life’s pleasures.

Connor seems like a nice guy at first blush. Still, you get a sense of unease that he’s about more than being kind to a couple of hard-scrabble kids. Sexual tension hangs in the air.

Arnold tells the entire story from Mia’s point of view as she wanders the streets, awkwardly fields the attentions of Connor, dances alone (a bad combination of hiphop and hip grinding) and repeatedly tries to free an old horse tethered nearby. That’s a potent if subtle symbol of Mia’s inner longings, and it leads to her meeting a young man more her age.

The movie hangs on the performance of Katie Jarvis as Mia. Arnold discovered the 17-year-old in a subway station, screaming at her boyfriend, and this is her first film. Though she may be playing herself, Jarvis gives an amazing performance, one that makes you pity her at times and judge her at other times, but follow her with interest all the time.

Arnold’s verite approach to the story puts the awful truth of what Mia’s future is likely to be right there for anyone to see. Though a glimmer of hope appears in the heartbreaking ending, this is disquieting stuff.

“Fish Tank” won a BAFTA award, the British equivalent of the Oscar, for outstanding British film. The movie also won the Cannes Jury Prize last year.

Quality: ***½ (out of four)

Director: Andrea Arnold

Stars: Katie Jarvis, Rebecca Griffiths, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing

Rating: Unrated (likely a hard R for thematic material, sexuality, domestic violence, language)

Running time: 2 hours, 3 minutes
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 05, 2010 1:34 am

http://www.tulsaworld.com/scene/article.aspx?subjectid=281&articleid=20100402_281_D3_InFish480181

Fish Tank

In "Fish Tank," Mia (Katie Jarvis) feels trapped by poverty and family dysfunction, watching the world pass her by.Courtesy

By MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer
Published: 4/2/2010 2:20 AM
Last Modified: 4/4/2010 4:03 AM

Set in Essex, one of London's multiple outlying towns that seemingly are always depicted as dodgy, "Fish Tank" illustrates the dead-end lives and restlessness of lower-middle-class teens. It feels like something we've seen before, with a twist.

We've seen such lives set to music and comedy in "The Commitments," and set to violence in the more recent "This Is England." British filmmaker Andrea Arnold's twist is to limit her focus to one young woman rather than an ensemble and to shoot in a cinema verite style.

The result is a film that looks like a documentary, a grim parable on dreams dying at a young age, leavened with the smallest amount of hope. A British "Precious," with a more sedate, unsentimental pulse and without the melodramatic moments (but a couple that are just as disturbing) gives an idea of what to expect from this recent surprise winner of best British film at that country's equivalent of the Oscars.

Newcomer Katie Jarvis plays 15-year-old Mia, an angry girl whose opening scene is enough to tell us how aimless her life feels to her: Within a couple of minutes, she cusses out her mother before slamming the door to their low-rent apartment; curses a neighbor and throws junk into his apartment; and then apparently breaks the nose of another teen whose hip-hop dancing Mia critiques.

Arnold's style is to follow her protagonist as she walks the side streets and fields of her decaying neighborhood (read: a jiggly camera observes her and her world). This shows Mia watching the world evolve around her as hers remains stagnant, as her goal of becoming a professional dancer seems ever more distant.

It is, appropriate to the title, as if she were trapped by poverty and a dysfunctional family inside a fish bowl, watching a world she isn't part of.

The film aspires to something more than its storytelling conventions but falls short. An allegory of Mia attempting to free a horse from its chain — as Mia wishes to be freed from her own station in life — is one of several moments that lessened this intriguing personal story.

While occasionally heavy-handed, this style and focus do offer a star-making role for Jarvis, and she is a remarkable mix of aggression and vulnerability. This is someone to look for in future works that offer her a wider range.

She is matched here by the dynamic Michael Fassbender, playing her caring-but-skanky mother's new boyfriend, the only adult to take an interest in Mia, but who also awakens her burgeoning sexuality. The star of "Hunger" (playing hunger striker Bobby Sands), who was also memorable in a small role in "Inglourious Basterds," balances compassion and cradle-robbing creepiness impressively.

"Fish Tank," a two-hour example of social realism, is an uncomfortable and sometimes moving visit to the wrong side of town. It opens Friday at Circle Cinema, home to Tulsa's non-escapist feature films.

Fish Tank
Stars: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender

Theater: Circle Cinema

Running time: 2 hours, 2 minutes

Rated: no MPAA rating

Quality: (on a scale of zero to four stars)

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/scene/article.aspx?subjectid=281&articleid=20100402_281_D3_InFish480181
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:12 am

https://www.thelittle.org/moviePage.php?filmID=1012

Fish Tank

Rating: NR
Length: 123 min.
Evenings:
6:50pm
9:30pm
Weekend Matinees:
12:20pm
3:30pm
Please note:
British Academy Film Award winner as Outstanding British Film

"[Katie] Jarvis, whom the director reportedly discovered at an Essex train station, is nothing less than a revelation in a performance that is tender, spiky and utterly fearless in its physical and emotional range."
- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

Andrea Arnold's pure, potent Fish Tank is many things: a taboo-breaking love story, a searing portrait of working-class Britain today, a film Ken Loach could have made had he been born a woman. But above all, her film is a girl's own fantasy. Arnold began exploring the precise perspective of a woman's desire in her terrific debut, Red Road. With Fish Tank, the view is broader and the focus even sharper.

Mia is a tough, wiry teenager with a mouth like a sailor and only one way to escape the brutality of her daily life: she dances, always by herself with her headphones on, and always to the point of ecstasy.

She has a lot to escape. Her mother is a bottle-blond party girl who favours skirts shorter than her daughter's, and men on the rough side. One day she brings home her latest catch, Connor, who is played by Hunger's Michael Fassbender. He soon proves irresistible.

Once Fish Tank sets its dangerous premise in motion, it observes its characters with generosity. The environment may be harsh, but Arnold's approach is lyrical, even loving.While the story goes to some dark places, Arnold never strays from her spare, beautiful aesthetic. Shooting in old-school 1.33 aspect ratio, she composes her frames with rigorous symmetry. The effect is to bring the simple order of a fable to the seeming chaos of Mia's life.

Even better, Arnold lets the sociology remain unspoken. The fact that Mia's mother must have had her as a teenager, that alcohol fuels so much of the characters' bad behaviour, that Mia adopts rage as a cover for more complicated feelings – these are left to the viewer to infer. Instead, Fish Tank focuses on getting the details of Mia's life right – contrasting her love of rapid-fire dance music to her mother's reggae and Connor's Bobby Womack soul, for instance – and on following her desire wherever it goes.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:05 am

http://philipmartin.posterous.com/full-version-of-fishtank-review

Fish Tank
Grade: 87
Cast: Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Griffiths
Director: Andrea Arnold
Rating: No rating, contains sexuality and language
Running time: 123 minutes

Philip Martin
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
There are obvious similarities between Fishtank, Andrea Arnold’s gritty portrait of a 15-year-old British girl growing up in the public housing projects of Essex, and Lee Daniels’ similarly sobering (but ultimately uplifting) Oscar-nominated Precious.

Mia (newcomer Katie Jarvis) is perhaps not as overtly abused by her mum Joanne (Kierston Wareing) as Precious, but there’s the same undercurrent of jealousy and sexual competition. And, if anything, Mia is more damaged than Precious — when we meet her she has been thrown out of school. She’s a friendless, sharp-elbowed child perpetually at war with her mother and little sister, and her misery is only partly soothed by sessions in a boarded-up apartment, where she turns up her music and dances alone.

Joanne hardly seems more than a child herself. She’s a party girl, who likes to bring the party home. (Even more than Precious, the film Fishtank reminds me of is Lori Petty’s semi-autobiographic The Poker House, about her apparently horrific upbringing in rural Iowa.) And, when she brings the party home, she’d just as soon not have her weirdo daughter with impulse control issues hanging around. Which for the most part is fine with Mia, who is pretty capable of getting into trouble in the streets as well.

A new element is introduced when Joanne brings home Connor (Michael Fassbender, so good as the film critic turned spy in Inglourious Basterds). Mia has a go at Connor — like she does at all her mother’s friends — but he seems more amused than alarmed by her outburst.

Connor is sort of a downmarket version of the sexual opportunist Peter Saarsgard played in An Education — he’s charming and creepy and I believe we’re supposed to be confused about him and his motives, and whether he’s predator or prey. There’s an uneasy ambiguity about the film which American audiences used to the conventions of romantic comedies and/or cautionary dramas are likely to reject — there’s no one here for whom we really ought to be rooting, though we can’t help but be sucked in by the charismatic performances.

Jarvis is a ferocious little actor, and the story of how she came to be cast has already acquired the dubious glint of show biz legend. Arnold found her in an Essex housing estate like the one portrayed in the movie, and she was allegedly screaming at her boyfriend in a train station when the director noticed her. It’s a story strangely reminiscent of Michelangelo Antonioni’s discovery of Zabriskie Point star Mark Frechette.

Things did not end well for Frechette, who died in prison a few years after making his film debut. One hopes that the now 18-year-old Jarvis, dragged from the streets into the spotlight, will prove to be more than a one-hit wonder. She’s so good here that it’s impossible not to wonder whether she was acting or acting out.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:20 am

http://www.kansascity.com/2010/04/01/1849166/fish-tank-katie-jarvis-delivers.html

Posted on Thu, Apr. 01, 2010 10:15 PM

‘Fish Tank’: Katie Jarvis delivers a mesmerizing performance | 3 stars
Katie Jarvis plays an angry British teen who thinks she can trust her mother's boyfriend.
IFC Films

‘Fish Tank’ ★★★

Not rated | Time: 2:03

Fifteen-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) is an angry bruise of a girl.

She lives in high-rise public housing in one of England’s provincial burgs with her foulmouthed little sister (Rebecca Griffiths) and their mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), a welfare-grubbing, bleached blond hottie too consumed with booze and men to worry much about parenting.

Mia is perennially angry and sometimes crazily spontaneous. She almost gets beaten up (or worse) for trying to liberate an old horse a couple of gypsy boys have tethered in an overgrown lot. She head-butts a girl on the local playground. She has no friends.

Mia uses an abandoned apartment as a dance studio in which she develops her own hip-hop routines; she’d like to become a professional dancer, though she hasn’t a clue as to what that entails.

And then Joanne brings home Connor (Michael Fassbender, virtually unrecognizable as the slick Brit spy who teamed up with Diane Kruger in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”).

Incredibly, Connor seems like a good guy. While keeping Joanne sexually satisfied, he also imposes some easygoing order on the household. Mia returns one afternoon to find the place cleaned up. Connor takes his three ladies on car rides to the country. He shares sound advice with Mia and even encourages her in seeking a dance career, letting her borrow his video camera so she can record and analyze her moves.

Sometimes Connor, Joanne and the girls just curl up on the couch for a night of TV.

It’s crazily domestic, and Mia begins to let down her guard. Socially backward and unsophisticated about boys, she’d be easy pickings. But surely Connor is too responsible to take advantage?

“Fish Tank,” winner of the Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, is a primo example of British ashcan moviemaking. This descent into poverty looks practically documentary and, as written and directed by Andrea Arnold, is virtually artifice-free — these people reveal themselves through behavior, not dialogue. (Good thing, because their slang defies easy translation.)

Much of what goes on here is seriously disturbing. Be thankful, then, for non-actress Jarvis’ mesmerizing performance. Her Mia isn’t pleasant to be around, but she’s a compelling figure who elicits our sympathy without ever asking for it.

(The film opens today at the Tivoli.)

| Robert W. Butler
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:22 am

http://lumiere.net.nz/index.php/goemon-fish-tank-still-walking/

British filmmakers have a long tradition of working-class, concrete jungle-set stories. Fish Tank isn’t particularly different given this recurring narrative in British cinema. Despite such clichés, hotshot director Andrea Arnold (this is her second film after Red Road; both have won Jury Prizes at Cannes) manages to draw a compelling film out of unpromising material. She’s largely helped by her explosive lead, Katie Jarvis, who succeeds in humanising what it is an all-too-predictable storyline.

Jarvis plays Mia, a fifteen year old girl living in a Council flat who dreams of becoming a dancer but has far too much energy spent in awkward teenage ways. Her mother isn’t much more mature, but when her mother’s new boyfriend (a typically brilliant Michael Fassbender performance) moves in, sparks fly. Fish Tank has a clear lineage to the Antoine Doinel films of François Truffaut; films in which moody teenage protagonists rail against the system. The title implies a kind of ‘objective’ viewing onto this situation, and Arnold’s film certainly stays far back enough to not judge its characters. This also means it doesn’t rely on a simple redemption motif or a forced climax (even if it seemed like approaching one towards the end). Rather, her film gives the impression that the characters just live, and will continue to live once the camera stopped rolling.

Arnold’s visual qualities manage to overshadow the potentially mundane, though it might have been apt to use the camera to create a fish-tank effect. Instead, the cinematography has a restless cinéma-vérité feel to it, but occasionally pauses for moments of beautiful clarity to attack the realism, such as during Mia’s night pursuit through the field, or the scene in the pond. While Fish Tank does retain a sense of the all-too-predictable, Jarvis’s incendiary performance and Arnold’s visuals manage to wring poetry out of it all.—Brannavan Gnanalingam
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:34 am

http://strippedcinema.com/2010/03/29/fish-tank-teaches-us-to-keep-our-heads-above-water-2/


‘Fish Tank’ Teaches Us to Keep Our Heads Above Water
March 29, 2010

Last week I braved the pre-fest madness that is the annual Ann Arbor Film Festival to check out a little film directed by Andrea Arnold, a woman who has already received more than a few accolades in her short directing career. The film was Fish Tank, starring newcomer Katie Jarvis as the protagonist Mia, alongside relative veteran Michael Fassbender, who plays her mother’s boyfriend Connor. Fish Tank tied with Thirst for Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. I have not seen Thirst, and although I’ve heard wonderful things, I feel like I can gauge and say Fish Tank had to be better solely based on the audience’s ability to relate to the film. The whole vampire theme is so huge right now, and even though Thirst’s story does take the concept to another level, it’s just not real life (plainly speaking). Fish Tank is a narrative in desperation, resilience, and escapism – attributes of the human psyche that we have all been painfully familiar with at some point or another.

First of all, let’s acknowledge the fact that this film was shot in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which of course is the equivalent to 4:3. A review from Suite101.com suggests this choice was made to mirror the limited possibilities of Mia’s life, which will be discussed later. I’ll buy that, as this girl seems to have definitely been handed the sh*#&% end of the life stick. The lack of range in our view never truly becomes comfortable. I toyed with whether or not this was due to the norms of the movie-going experience these days, or if the film was just that upsetting that the claustrophobic viewing area only enhanced our feeling of unease.

Both, I have concluded.

Make no mistake however, this film is absolutely BEAUTIFULLY shot. Despite the restricted frame of view, we are not cheated out of any sort of style or substance. DP Robbie Ryan created a stunning string of film whose every frame could easily stand on their own as independent photographs. He captures the gritty, raw nature of the outskirts of London with such ease and perfection we maybe think he’s done this before. The look and color of the picture is so inherently natural, it simply feels as if you are there.

Speaking of all things natural, talent doesn’t get much more natural than that of Katie Jarvis. As Mia, she embodies the life of a down-on-her-luck teen, stuck in a fatherless family, with a promiscuous mother and one of the most foul-mouthed adolescent sisters you’ll ever come across. Mia is frustrated, fed-up and struggling just to get by. All she wants to do is be a dancer. Fish Tank follows her through her only goal and aspiration, all the while being cheered along by the one person you would never expect: her mother’s boyfriend Connor.

We are introduced to Connor at the beginning of the film, in all his shirtless glory. The past year has been a year for matured performances apparently, and Michael Fassbender is no exception to this. He plays Connor with such grace and ease we have no idea whether to love him or hate him. As Mia practices her dance moves in her underwear to a suggestive American hip-hop video on tv one sunny morning, Connor observes her from afar. This is the moment where the audience is given a glimpse into the sheer candor of this film. Fish Tank sizzles and pops with such a subtle sensuality – and it feels strange. Strange in the way we that we completely expect this, but shouldn’t. A 15 year-old girl bumps and grinds shamelessly in her underwear in front of a 30-something year-old man, and this is supposed to be okay? This is foreshadowing like all get out, as well as the moment when we realize, this film is not holding back ANYTHING.

As the film progresses, there are tons of metaphors for Mia and what she is trying to achieve, ranging from the most obvious (when Mia tries to set a horse free), to the most wildly minuscule. All the while Connor is giving her the support of a true father figure, something Mia is in desperate need of. Hints are dropped at Connor’s more middle-class background. He works and makes a decent living at it even. He’s relatively well-spoken and knowledgeable. We wonder what interest he has in this land of misfit Brits. He shows an interest in Mia and her little sister in a way they’ve never known, and he is good at it. The trick here, however, is despite Mia’s ability to give love, the way in which she communicates it are tainted by her lack of ever receiving any, and the skewed perceptions she has of how it is supposed to be given.

The build-up of tension in Fish Tank is paced so impeccably, that when we reach the climax we can hardly believe what is happening, even though somehow, we knew it was coming. It’s like drowning slowly and painfully instead of having a brain aneurysm. The story is so brilliant and original, yet so incredibly instinctive, it’s downright shocking we’ve never seen anything like it before. Or maybe we have, but never to the level of precise execution that Fish Tank exudes. In short, Fish Tank is as emotionally shattering as a story can get, and Andrea Arnold tells it with such brutal veracity that we are forced to take it all in. And by forced, I mean we gulp it down in all the amounts we can handle without expelling it from our bodies immediately – because in the end, if we’re going to be honest, we want it.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:39 am

http://www.damaris.org/content/culturewatcharticles/964

Gasping for breath

Author: Sophie Lister

Keywords: Deprivation, escape, adolescence, love, sexuality, betrayal

Film title: Fish Tank
Director: Andrea Arnold
Screenplay: Andrea Arnold
Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender
Distributor: Artificial Eye (UK); IFC (USA)
Cinema Release Date: 11 September 2009 (UK)
Certificate: 15 (UK) Contains very strong language, sex and sex references

Mia (Katie Jarvis) dreams of better things. In an abandoned flat overlooking the Essex estate in which she lives, she dances in her own defiant style. But her existence is a bleak and bewildered one. Excluded from school, sneered at by her peers, she spends her days picking fights and drinking cider, and occasionally attempting to free the sad and ragged horse that the local gypsies keep chained to a breeze block.

When her hard-partying mother (Kierston Wareing) brings home handsome stranger Connor (Michael Fassbender), his presence is a breath of fresh air in their stifling home. Relaxed and charming, he seems to promise all that they have secretly longed for: a father-figure for Mia’s foul-mouthed younger sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths), and a window onto a different kind of life. But as Mia slowly begins to trust him, their relationship enters dangerous waters.

Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, winner of the 2009 Cannes Festival Grand Jury Prize, had only a brief run in British cinemas last year. Its lack of commercial appeal is perhaps easy to understand: a lonely story filmed on location in the kind of grimy estate most of us would give a wide berth to, lacking any big names save for Fassbender, the film is likely to have been passed over by many. But it fully deserves the critical acclaim that has been heaped on it. Pervaded by an unnerving realism, profound in an understated and deeply human sense, Fish Tank finds beauty in the midst of brokenness. Katie Jarvis, a non-actor who was cast as Mia after a casting director spotted her having a raging public row with her boyfriend, is by turns ferocious and achingly vulnerable as the trapped protagonist.

Mia is never far from the allure of better worlds. MTV’s flash celebrity houses and music videos filmed in exotic locations flicker across the television screen, the lives they portray making a garish contrast with the lives of those who watch them. The lyrics of Connor’s favourite song, which comes to represent all that he seems to promise to Mia, speak of a longing to escape to somewhere warmer and brighter: ‘I’d be safe and warm if I was in LA / California dreaming on such a winter’s day.’ But one possibility after another proves to be a false horizon. Even Mia’s dream of becoming a dancer, which in any other film might have been her sure ticket out, is eventually shown up as hopelessly naïve.

Of the film’s many memorable images, possibly one of the most evocative is the sight of a fish, pulled from the water, gasping for breath on dry land. Mia too is suffocating, in danger of sinking further into bitterness, introversion and aggression. The phrase ‘social deprivation’ is insufficient to describe her lack, not only of meaningful opportunity, but of anything resembling love. ‘Did I tell you I nearly had you aborted?’ her mother informs her. ‘I even made the appointment.’ Every message Mia receives from the world is a confirmation of her worthlessness. It is little wonder that she is so entranced by Connor, who, from the first, pays more than passing attention to her existence. At first she doesn’t even know how to deal with being recognised as a worthwhile individual - ‘What do they call you, anyway?’ he asks, and she snaps back, ‘Whatever you like.’

Though she is clearly attracted to him sexually, she is most drawn to Connor by the qualities of the father who has been absent from her life. With his relative stability, responsibility and care, Connor’s presence seems to plug a gap in the household. ‘You need sorting out, you do,’ he tells Mia, and though she pretends to dismiss him, it is clear that she is hanging all kinds of hope on him. Perhaps he really will ‘sort her out’ where others have failed to, bringing the confidence and the reassurance that she needs to move from adolescence to adulthood. But the dangerous ambiguity in the nature of their feelings for each other, and the secret that Connor is hiding, mean that her hopes are tragically misplaced. It is heartbreaking to watch as Mia, so starved of affirmation, slowly allows herself to become vulnerable to a man who is not worthy of her trust.

The betrayal she endures is a sharp reminder of the responsibilities that we take on when we enter the lives of others, and the power that we have to impact these lives for better or for worse. The seemingly small words of kindness that Connor so casually offers Mia become a lifeline to her, but as easily as he builds her up, he eventually tears her down again. It is to the film’s credit that Connor is not simply demonised but presented as a complex individual who genuinely values Mia in some respects, but who ultimately allows his own selfishness to take precedence. His failures serve as a reminder that we are all prone to letting others down and using them for our own ends. In a world full of people as fragile and neglected as Mia, we need to bear in mind that investing in others is never something to be taken on lightly.

The tragedy is that so many live without any real affirmation that they matter. The lyrics of the song to which Mia and her mother can both so powerfully relate may seem to be the last word on their existence: ‘Life’s a bitch and then you die.’ Without hope for better things, and without meaningful, loving relationships, life becomes a thing to be endured rather than enjoyed. Dreams wither, hearts harden, and potential becomes crushed. Such suffocating circumstances call out for a far deeper, far more selfless care and kindness than that which Connor is capable of.

God is a father who is entirely trustworthy, who sees past our brokenness and rebelliousness to our true potential. His intention is ‘to bring good news to the poor . . . to comfort the brokenhearted, and to proclaim that captives will be released, and prisoners freed,’ (Isaiah 61:1). These words were spoken as a kind of mission statement by Jesus – a very different mysterious stranger who ‘moved into the neighborhood’ of our world (John 1:14, The Message). Unlike Connor, he did not limit his investment in us to what was convenient to him. He chose to live amidst all the poverty and need of our planet, and to die, in order to offer us the possibility of something more.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:18 pm

http://anniegmovies.com/2010/04/06/fish-tank-2010/


Fish Tank (2010)
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
By AnnieG


Release Date: Friday February 19, 2010

Genre: Drama Running Time: 123 min.

Director: Andrea Arnold

Studio: Mongrel Media

Producer(s): Kees Kasander

Screenplay: Andrea Arnold

Cast: Katie Jarvis, Rebecca Griffiths,

Kierston Wareing, Michael Fassbender


That was…interesting. That was what I said after watching Fish Tank. The film was followed by such critical acclaim that by the end of it I was reminded of how some art has to be perceived as good on account of it being so bad. By no means is this film bad, but, by no means is it the cat’s ass either. It has some really great moments of realistically portrayed unrealism through out the all be it touching but unconvincing story. What does that mean? Fish Tank tells the sad tale of a young girl living in the projects of London’s suburbs/outskirts desperate to escape from a family of screaming people and equally unimpressive neighbours.

Mia (Katie Jarvis) is the eldest daughter of an abusive, boozing, scantily dressed, and very loose mother. Yes, I used the word loose and no I won’t apologize–ever. Mia whose name in Italian just so happens to be the word for "mine" in the feminine sense finds herself all but belonging to anything or anyone. She’s a social outcast in the strictest sense. She’s the unwilling participant of a highly dysfunctional family where she lacks a father figure and her maternal care giver can barely take care of herself let alone the two children in her care. Said mom brings home a boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender) who acts as a paternal figure of sorts. The 15 year old and her mother’s would be live in boyfriend have a Lolita inspired affair only he hits the bricks after realizing the trouble he’s possibly in. A series of strange reactions and toxic actions ensue and she finally receives someone discipline her life even if perhaps in the moment you almost feel badly for her. I read a lot of reviews pinning this guy as a "predator" and I disagree; the film puts forth a very interesting discussion on how much of the responsibility lies with the adolescent in this situation who engages in this situation enjoys it and only later upon realizing she can no longer continue to have the interlude takes on the victim role. In many ways I see this film as the British low budget version of White Oleander (2002) minus the murder, for those who haven’t seen that you won’t know what I mean or simply won’t agree. The interesting part about the film is that no one is truly painted as villainous but rather human and almost inherently requisite of fatal flaws in order to be accepted and appreciated by the audience at all.

Andrea Arnold has managed to tell the charming tale of a fantastic loser who quite literally dances her way out of the slums (though not in the Hollywood sense) to search for bigger and better things elsewhere. In my opinion this film is more about the sum of its parts than any singular scene or performance. As a whole it has an academic value where various schools of thought can interject and analyze its meaning and perhaps deconstruct it argumentatively where the discourses of class, gender, and economics are concerned. Perhaps, if I hadn’t read the raving reviews I might have been more impressed with the film and perhaps by reading mine you will be more impressed with it given the bland picture I’ve painted. I will reiterate that it’s not a bad film, but, it’s not the cat’s ass of movies either.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Pilar on Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:15 pm

Holy God.

I just saw it.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by MissL on Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:28 pm

saw wot

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:14 pm

Soooooo....
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

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