I saw Fish Tank a while ago and I think it’s one of my favorite films.
I’d already heard a lot about it via people on Tumblr and Rotten Tomatoes, so I sort of had an idea of what it was going to be like. One person (I don’t know who) on the internet said it was a “mix of Precious and An Education“which I think is somewhat accurate, although it’s way closer to Precious in my opinion. I really think it annihilated this childish view many people may have of England, like everyone is posh and educated and wealthy (???) which a) makes no sense and b) we still continue to embrace it. British characters are often portrayed in ways that make them seem more ostentatious, pretentious, and snobby than Americans or Canadians or whoever in American films. But Fish Tank is essentially the projects in a shitty part of London, with lots of poverty and drinking at the center. I don’t know why people have a hard idea believing that really bad parts of England exist just the way there are really bad parts of America, but here it is for you.
Andrea Arnold directed it, and although I haven’t seen anything else she’s worked on/etc. I really think she did a fantastic job of capturing the little things, like the horse tied up and the way that Michael Fassbender acts, which is sly and attractive at first, and then slowly but surely becomes more and more…weird. Generally speaking, in realistic fiction, you have to make sure that little details are taken care of because there aren’t fire breathing dragons or any of that to get people drawn in.
I also thought that Katie Jarvis was fantastic. She had never acted before and was scouted at a train station as she was arguing with her boyfriend. While it seems like it’d be a crazy idea to just pick up any random person who seemed to scream well (I’m assuming,) this was obviously not a mistake and personally, I think, one of the best parts of the film. She plays into the role of Mia really really well, with her body language and bad dancing and her obvious intelligence combined with her being naive about a lot of things, even after growing up in such a bad environment (her younger sister Tyler, smokes and curses at seven just as much as Mia does at fifteen.) I also liked how the end (not going to spoil anything!) was realistic (you can expect that it won’t be happy from the beginning.) And while a lot of times in films when these things happen, the characters undergo an obvious or even drastic change, that didn’t really happen here. To an extent the characters did, but it was more sort of for the audience to decide because the shock of what happened (again, so spoilers!) built at the end and really seemed to shake everyone up.
Also (and I don’t know why I haven’t before) but Talia’s blog is absolutely amazing! She is so articulate and when she talks about films, you can tell she really understands them. I feel like I never get them half the time. If I were you, I’d check out her blog after watching a movie so you can get her perspective–it’s definitely worth your time. All of her stuff on Fish Tank is so helpful.