Fish Tank Andrea Arnold

Fish Tank Andrea Arnold
Having notably charmed many festival crowds since its UK release last year (Cannes, Chicago, Stockholm, Edinburgh, Motovun, Ireland, London) and winning the creamiest awards (Cannes Jury Prize, Bafta's, British Independent Film Awards), Fish Tank is a dazzling, dynamic, heart-breaking coming-of-age narrative about Mia (newcomer Katie Jarvis, who was cast in this film after a casting director watched her argue with her boyfriend on a train platform), who is an angry 16-year-old Chav from London's dilapidated council flats. Sucked in and spit out by the over-sexed urban culture in which she's saturated, her dysfunctional family, chaired by her ever-drunk, bleached out mum Joanne (Kierston Wareing), enjoys a brief period of harmony when Connor (Michael Fassbender, Inglourious Basterds) comes into their lives. Tempering Mia's adolescent bravado with kindness and encouraging her love of dance, their bond quickly becomes illegal, if you know what I mean. Directed by Oscar-winning Andrea Arnold, two types of film are present here: one of engaging weight and quietly expansive storytelling, and one where the tiniest ruminations become the subject of import. Both are held together by a directorial vision so pure it often stands at odds with Katie Jarvis's propensity toward the wry and suggestive. Scenes of Mia shopping for fizzy drinks at her corner store, dancing in an abandoned flat, trying to free a sick horse, introducing us to a crowd of hoodrats and generously applying mascara will stay with you forever. Bulked up and fleshed out with the weight of Michael Fassbender's sinful eye candy, he adds urgency to what could have been a meandering script that smokes from every syllable he utters. All the better for its imperfections, as disarmingly matter-of-fact as it is idiosyncratic and with a passion so raw, Fish Tank is very fine indeed. (Mongrel Media)