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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

‘Fish Tank’: A Starkly Absorbing Depiction of a Rebellious Teenage Girl’s Harsh Self-Actualization

Movie poster for the British film Fish Tank starring Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender

“Fish Tank” (2009) is an earnest true-to-life British drama centered around 15 year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis), a volatile loner living in an East London council flat with her hard-partying single mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing) and her younger sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths). After a bitter falling out with her only friend Keely (Sarah Bayes), Mia whiles her time away practicing hip-hop dance in an abandoned building by herself. The only kindred soul that comes into her world is her mother’s new boyfriend Conor (Michael Fassbender), a charming and handsome Irishman who blithely bridges the bitter gap between Mia and her mother. Conor warmly encourages Mia to enter a professional dance audition that catches her eye, even as his full intentions ultimately grow noticeably dubious. Written and directed by British filmmaker Andrea Arnold (“Red Road”, “American Honey”), “Fish Tank” is a raw and emotionally commanding tale of discord and self-actualization, highlighted by Jarvis’ wholly authentic portrayal of the misbegotten Mia. She brings an urgent air of social realism to the story, craving out a stunningly convincing portrayal of a lost young soul desperate for acceptance. Rather under-appreciated upon initial release, it’s a grade-A sleeper film highly deserving of newfound consideration.


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