Fish Tank – gritty British film review
To give you a brief idea about Fish Tank it is a low budget, gritty Brit drama and main actress Katie Jarvis was discovered by director Andrea Arnold whilst arguing with her boyfriend at Tilbury train station. She had no previous acting experience.
The story centres around Mia, an aggressive young girl from an East London council estate. We are shown early on that life is far from pleasant for Mia, who head butts another girl within ten minutes of the film starting. Her mum (Kierston Wareing) seems to care little for her and the place where she lives is drab, violent and to be honest – full of losers.
Mia relies on her hip hop dancing and bottles of cheap cider to keep her spirits up. Apart from dancing she seems to have no real direction or support from anyone. Such is life. The film then takes a turn in a compelling new direction after Mia’s mother brings home her mysterious new boyfriend Connor – played by Michael Fassbender.
So firstly what’s right with it? Well it’s watchable. It appealed to me because it’s set close to where I live in Essex (though I’m more countryside bound dahhling). Michael Fassbender is one of my favourite actors and I’d never turn down a British drama.
All the actors/actresses played their parts well and as the film progresses, you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen (and if you’re like me, you may find the constant swearing and arguing quite funny). It also plays the Bobby Womack cover of California Dreamin’ a lot, like the anthem of the movie. I love this song! So that was fine with me.
But…..what’s wrong with it? Well it is rather cliché. I mean, not everyone who lives on a council estate drinks, smokes and uses the C word (cunt) as a form of daily expression. But this film would have us believe that. I got the feeling director Andrea Arnold may have been from Sandwich (a posh place in Kent) or somewhere and made this film as her art project or something. The poor council estate people! But investigation into Wiki shows she did come from a working class background…..in Kent (near Sandwich).
It is also overly long at 120 minutes, it could have been 90 minutes easily. It’s also quite depressing and has some cringey moments. Though it is the sort of film that undoubtedly will get good critical acclaim (I think it faired well at Cannes) and make the audience think maaaan. But to be honest I think there other, similar films out there that do this without so much cliché stereotyping and dare I say, almost pretentious film making.
If you’re thinking about watching Fish Tank I’d say sure, go for it! It’s an entertaining, if slightly long, movie that is certainly worth watching once. I didn’t mean to sound as though I hated it, I didn’t hate it and I’ll probably watch it again in a couple of years but the negatives probably did stand out in my memory, more than the positives.