Before you jump into a fringe about the fact that I’m reviewing this amazing film in 2012, keep calm – I have seen Fish Tank about three to four times and when I discovered I hadn’t reviewed it yet I was very surprised. The movie not only marks the beginning of my Andrea Arnold fascination, but it also brought Michael Fassbender into my life and it is only fair if I review Fish Tank (better late than ever), as it has become one of my favorites of all time!
When one thinks of a teenager’s becoming of age stories, it might seem a bit far fetched and over done in so many ways but Andrea Arnold doesn’t let Fish Tank fall into cliches and gives the leading role depth that is refreshing to see. A lot of the credit goes for Katie Jarvis, the one-time actress who’s role as Mia is probably her first and last, as she tackles the leading role with uncertainty that in this situation works. She is raw and it is brilliant to watch as she also manages to give a brave but yet a fearful tone to her character. My hat is off to Jarvis, it was like watching a real girl which actually might have been true since her own life is said (or rumored – I can’t recall the exact facts) to be similar in more than one aspect.
By far my favorite of the movie was of course Michael Fassbender and not just because he looked damn fine (which he did) but because in my eyes, he is the only man who can portray a bad guy in such a good way that you are, like Mia, captured into his presence without any hesitation. He is smooth, handsome and too good to be true – everything that the role of Connor was set out to be before the moment of the harsh truth that makes him the villain but still, a villain I want for myself. And as Fassbender’s talent is now widely discussed with his rise to fame, I have no doubt he will soon be big award winning leading man and I can’t think of any reasons he shouldn’t be.
One of my favorite scenes of the movie gives an opportunity to explain why Arnold’s style has such an art-like-quality to itself. I can’t really explain if one has not seen her work including short film Wasp (2003), Red Road (2006) and Wuthering Heights (2011) but I guess it is a certain way of telling the story through smaller elements such as the landscape, birds or simply the sound of breathing. The latter is used in Fish Tank more than once but the scene in question is the one I simply can’t get out of my head, as it carries so much emotion and meaning. Having only one element, which is the sound, together with two brilliant actors, Arnold demonstrates the rare “depth” of teenager movies I was talking about earlier. This element, connected with others in the movie, has a certain way of carrying context and since I’ve watched it more than once, the elements have started to create new meanings and each time I understand the movie, in its quiet moments, a little bit differently. For me, that is the greatest thing a movie could do to its viewer, give something new each time.
Images from Google Search.