Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Darkmatters Review: Fish Tank
Fish Tank (15)
Dir. Andrea Arnold, who also made the gritty Red Road
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
ONE WORD SUMMATION: bleakhope
As rapper Nas said “Life’s a bitch and then you die…” and that pretty much sums up Fish Tank, a gritty yet poignant British film that is liable to blow your socks right off.
Venture with me into a seriously Chav estate where the dogs run wild, the children are mostly feral and nobody has a chance. See that cute but mouthy 15-year-old? That’s Mia (an awesome natural-feeling performance from newcomer Katie Jarvis who is going to be star). Mia’s life is pretty rubbish, excluded from school, verbally abused by her slag of a mum (a scarily convincing Kierston ‘Rise of the Footsoldier’ Wareing) and at odds with her so call friends. With nothing but her vague dream of becoming a dancer to guide her, Mia drinks, fights, swears and harbours more resentment than any youngster should really have to deal with… Then one day he mum brings home a new boyfriend – a cut above her usual men, Conor (Michael ‘Inglorious Basterds and Eden Lake’ Fassbender) seems like an Adonis of charismatic, sexy opportunity. Mia initially doesn’t know what to make of this guy who oozes erotic tension in the way he looks her up and down but acts like he just wants to be her mate / surrogate father figure.
Conor introduces Mia and her small family which includes her hard as nails little sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) to new things like… a trip to the countryside where he and Mia catch a fish much to the disgust and ridicule of the others… but has Conor got other things on his agenda that he’s like to introduce Mia to? Is he a wrong-un grooming her or is he really a decent bloke?
"Think a British Flashdance without the glam crap or the happy ending"
Barking council won’t be thrilled by the depiction of the estate wilderness that Mia lives in - the gloomy bleakness of the crowded concrete jungle reeks of neglect, this is the England that haunts the nightmares of Daily Mail readers.
It’s a fish tank – where kids like Mia might want to escape from and swim in the free ocean but never can get past the grimy glass walls that hold them in.
Plot-wise it’s better not to know too much as the tension ramps up considerably as the interplay between the convincing characters becomes sexually charged and dangerous. Jarvis is superb and her chemistry with Fassbender is unnerving. Apparently Arnold found Jarvis witnessing her having a blazing row with her boyfriend at Tilbury Town Station. The events spiral downwards dragging the audience kicking and screaming into a dark swerve of 100mph nail-biting, drunk driving, head on collision with issues that many wouldn’t dare depict on the big screen...
"Do you come here often?"
Fish Tank is a ride worth taking – potentially the best British film of the year. If you’ve the stomach to witness the harshness of real life for those who are trapped in the fish tanks of sink estates, this delivers over and above expectations. It's genius…
Darkmatters final rating of: ööööööööö (9 – masterful stuff, highly recommended)
Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action 6 (flashpoints)
Style 7 (drips with urban grime)
Babes 8 (Katie Jarvis is going to be a babe)
Comedy 6 (tragically comic in places)
Horror 5 (not too horrible)
Spiritual Enlightenment 7 (live, love and give as good as you get)
Official Site: http://www.fishtankmovie.com/
"Katie Jarvis - less Chav out of costume!"
Read a great interview with her over at Little White Lies