Skip to Content

Fish Tank []



This Cannes Jury Prize award winning indie film from British Director Andrea Arnold captures an English ‘Coming-of-Age’ tale far from the stereotypical pastoral village green. Set in a bleak Essex council estate, the films energy and success is derived mainly from the talented young lead, Katie Jarvis. Jarvis was discovered yelling at her boyfriend across platforms at a local train station by the casting director after numerous unsuccessful auditions for the role by better known and established actresses. The film centers on the adolescent conflicts of her character (Mia) and her discovery of dance as an escape and outlet from fights with her family and peers. Unlike so many dance related films, Arnold wisely avoids the typical clichés of the genre, with no dance-offs, miraculous improvements in skill overnight or extended montages showing a sudden rise to fame. Instead Mia’s dancing is shown for what it is, a creative outlet and escape rather than a possible career choice. Without laboring the point, the film contrasts Mia’s love of and desire to learn the basic skills of ‘break-dancing’ with the hyper-sexualized dance moves of her peers, who are plainly mimicking popular music videos. The introduction of her mother’s new Irish boyfriend (played by rising heart throb Michael Fassbender) expands and ultimately threatens Mia’s fragile world . His influence on Mia and her selfish and neglectful mother and charming and foul mouthed little sister is, by turns, both inspiring and disturbing. Arnold, who won an Oscar in 2003 for her short film Wasp, directs the film with a skilled hand, anchoring it in social realism without wallowing in cliché or misery. It is decidedly not a light hearted family film but also not without hope or joy.

Tagged: ,