Saturday, February 13, 2010

FISH TANK (2010)

Written & Directed by Andrea Arnold

Where & When: Laemmle Sunset 5, West Hollywood, CA. February 7, 2010 1:00PM

Katie Jarvis plays Mia Williams, an angry and frustrated fifteen year old British girl who lashes out, sometimes violently, to anyone who she feels gets in her way. She just wants to be left alone. She lives in a cheap and depressing housing complex in Essex, England with her mother and younger sister. She realizes that living here could be a dead end for her if she doesn't do something to try and escape.

Her plan to escape from her miserable surroundings is hip-hop styled dancing which she hopes to use to help her start a new life but she seems to have more passion than talent.

Mia's mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), still a young woman, has been reduced to a selfish, puffy and disheveled drunk. She resents having to raise children she has no real interest in doing and her daughters are very aware of this. Mia's eleven year old sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) is already showing signs, like drinking and smoking (and the boys won't be far behind), that she is destined to repeat her mother's mistakes in life.

It is quite apparent that Mia and her sister have different fathers who left them behind a long time ago but Joanne is still in search of a new man to make her feel beautiful and complete and she refuses to let her children interfere with that.

Joanne brings home her latest beau, Connor (Michael Fassbender) who is kind, charming and sexy. Mia resists his attempts to befriend her, partially because she knows he probably won't be around long and she doesn't know how to respond to a real paternal figure but she also find herself attracted to him.

Connor's presence changes things for the family and he exposes them to simple things that bring them closer together like going for a drive together or having a picnic in the country. Mia sees an ad that states that they are looking for dancers but she is unsure if she should apply. Connor encouages Mia to try out for the contest and even let's her borrow his video camera to film her audition. Connor, however, has not been completely honest with them and is keeping a secret which causes a change in his relationship with Mia and forces her to commit an act of revenge that is unforgivable.

Ms Jarvis has not had any previous acting experience but she gives a natural and powerful performance. She shows us all of Mia's rage and pain but she also displays her brief moments of happiness, dancing alone and trying to express herself the only way she knows how.

This is Ms Arnold's second feature length film, following "Red Road" (2006) which won her a jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival and "Fish Tank" won that same award at last year's festival. This is a touching, honest and fascinating film that takes us in to the lives of people who feel isolated and are trapped by the cycle of poverty and the lack of education . They are able to see that there is a possibility for more out there but cannot seem to find a way to get there but if there is a glimmer of hope, they will keep trying to make it out.