Andrea Arnold’s sophomore film is a British indie drama about Mia, a volatile young girl aspiring to be a dancer while living with her dysfunctional family in a rundown neighborhood. When Mia’s mother brings home a new boyfriend, an odd series of events occur, prompting everything to change for Mia and her family. It’s somewhat similar plot-wise to An Education, only much more authentic and in a lower class setting. And much better.
Katie Jarvis, in her first performance ever, is absolutely brilliant as Mia and if there was any justice would be a shoe-in at the Oscars. Michael Fassbender, who starred in last year’s Hunger and had a role in Inglourious Basterds, plays the new boyfriend and is also terrific (he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite actors).
Despite being such a small film with a shoe-string budget, natural lighting, and an unknown lead actress, Fish Tank is one of the most arresting and poignant films in recent memory. It uses everything it has so effectively. I’ll certainly never see Bobby Womack’s song “California Dreamin” in the same way.
As far as I know Fish Tank does not yet have a U.S. release date, and when it is released chances are it won’t be at your local theatre so you’ll probably have to go out of your way to check it out. But please do, it deserves more exposure.
RATING: 9.5/10 (my #2 of 2009)