Directed by: Andrea Arnold
Starring: Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Harry Treadaway, Michael Fassbender
I am a big fan of films from England. In particular, films set in working-class England rather than the trials and tribulations of the rich. So, Fish Tank is right in my wheelhouse.
Mia (Katie Jarvis) is fifteen years old. She has a mother named Joanne (Kierston Wareing), for whom the name mother only applies because she gave birth to Mia, as she doesn’t do much in the way of actually “caring” for her daughter. The two live in a filthy apartment and Joanne focuses much more of her attention to whatever man she is “dating” at the moment.
Mia finds solace and escape from her life in the form of rap music and hip hop dancing. She practices with enthusiasm in abandoned apartments and buildings in her neighborhood. She hopes that dancing might be her ticket out of her dreary existence. It really is all she has to rely on as she spends her days at home as she has been kicked out of her school.
She spends her days being alternating solemn and angry. She picks fights with all of the local girls and has a strange fixation on a horse that she discovers chained in a classmate Billy’s (Harry Treadaway) yard. While Billy seems to offer some sort of friendship to Mia, she isn’t much interested.
Enter into the picture Connor (Michael Fassbender), the latest beau in Mia’s mother’s life. While he seems nice enough on the surface, something else seethes beneath his easy going demeanor. Even though Mia can be rude and sullen, he likes Mia’s mercurial personality immediately.
However, Connor’s intentions aren’t exactly 100% altruistic. He flirts with Mia who is unsure of how to sort out her feelings for Connor. She is intrigued and excited by the attention of an older man, but knows there are consequences. But, worrying about consequences isn’t really in Mia’s DNA strand.
Fish Tank is a compelling and realistic “cinema verite” exploration into the life a young Brits journey from teenager to adult. Mia’s road is definitely bumpy and wrought with never ending opportunities for peril and tension. You aren’t going to see teenage life portrayed in this manner on Glee, that’s for sure. And, that is the film’s strength.
The performances are all solid, in particular Katie Jarvis as Mia. She brings a realistic intensity to her portrayal of this girl “on the edge”. The cinematography by Robbie Ryan (Red Road) is wonderfully gritty and straightforward.
The direction by Andrea Arnold is bold and honest. This story and film is told free of any pretentiousness. I am familiar with Arnold’s work from another film, Red Road, which is another film you should check out.
I digress. Fish Tank is what indie film should be about: candid stories told in an emotionally resonating manner. Add this one to the Netflix queue or to the home collection with quickness.
The film is presented in an AVC encoded full frame aspect ratio. The colors are natural and the gritty look of the film is preserved. The level of detail is impressive and the black levels are respectable.
The film is presented in 5.1 DTS HD sound mix. The dialogue is crystal clear and mixed well with the ambient sound. While this might not be the disc you pop into to show off your home theater, this is perfect audio presentation for this film.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The film is presented in a standard blu ray amaray case with artwork suited to the film presented.
There are some nice bonus features to peruse on this release. Michael Fassbender is an interview with the actor discussing his acting style and his experiences working on this film.
Audition Footage shows various actors’s trying out for the part of Mia and their varying dance skills.
Kierston Wareing is a discussion with the actor that portrayed Joanne in the film. She discusses her motivation and her prior film work.
Also offered are several of Arnold’s short film work, Milk, Dog and Wasp. All are very good and Wasp earned Arnold an Academy Award.
Rounding things out is a stills gallery and theatrical trailer.
Overall (Not an Average) 8.5/10
The Film 8/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall ( Not an Average) 8.5/10