Fish Tank

This is the third Andrea Arnold directed film I’ve watched, so I think that’s the whole of her output, and this is another intriguing story of a young woman at odds with the world. Mia lives on a council estate in Essex. Her single mum has a boyfriend, an early appearance of Michael Fassbender.

The film opens with Mia trying to contact a friend who refuses to pick up her phone; she goes to her flat and throws rocks at the window, to be shouted at by the father. She watches young girls doing their inept versions of seductive hip-hop gyrations to a bunch of bored young men with dogs. She tells the girls they are rubbish, and ends up head butting one of them.

Mia is a troubled teen, but she loves to dance, the same hip hop of her peers, but she’s good at it. It’s her way of coping with her lousy lonely misfit life. She also becomes intrigued by what seems to be a neglected horse which she tries to liberate.

As with Arnold’s ‘Red Road’, we are shown, not told the story, so we are slowly drawn in, intrigued by what seems to be Mia’s unpredictable and illogical behaviour. She’s 15. It comes with the territory. Brilliantly acted by the young lead, and an edgy performance by Fassbinder. 

Highly commended. This is what filmmaking should be about, challenging, engrossing and really well acted. Uses the best elements of Dogme but without the annoying jerky camerawork.

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