Flick Picks: Fish Tank

Mia Williams is a volatile and socially isolated 15-year-old who regularly practises hip-hop dance alone in a deserted flat. She lives on an East London council estate with her single mother, Joanne, and younger sister, Tyler, and is highly antagonistic toward both of them. Although she prefers to be alone, Mia craves connection. She develops a tentative friendship with one of the young men who keep that poor half-metaphorical horse, and a far more complicated relationship with Connor (Michael Fassbender), her mother’s new boyfriend.

“Fish Tank,” insofar as it concerns the relationship between a restless teenage girl and an unreliable older man, bears some resemblance to “An Education,” Lone Scherfig’s much-praised recent movie. That film wraps its sexual queasiness in period glamour, fetishizing early-’60s clothes, cigarettes and cultural references as ardently as its young heroine. Ms. Arnold is no less absorbed in the details of her film’s setting — the graffiti in the corridors, the litter on the sidewalks, the trash on television — and her harsh brand of realism is no less a style than Ms. Scherfig’s wry worldliness. We find ourselves, in “Fish Tank,” in a world made familiar by the films of Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and other socially conscious anatomists of British misery. — The New York Times


Fish Tank is a 2009 British drama film written and directed by Andrea Arnold. The film won the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. It also won the 2010 BAFTA for Best British Film. It was filmed in the Mardyke Estate in Havering, the town of Tilbury, and the A13, and funded by BBC Films and the UK Film Council.

The film currently holds a 90% “certified fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 132 reviews. The New Yorker’s David Denby writes, “Fish Tank may begin as a patch of lower-class chaos, but it turns into a commanding, emotionally satisfying movie, comparable to such youth-in-trouble classics as The 400 Blows”.

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