directed by Andrea Arnold
If the film An Education had peeked over Fish Tank’s shoulder during exam time, it might have gotten some of the things right that Andrea Arnold’s film did. I know, I know, the Academy and the art film snobs (I mean that affectionately, of course) out there loved An Education, and while I give it good marks for effort, the final result left my hopes deflated. Fish Tank, however, wouldn’t take that kind of prissy, proper, crime as a faux pas sort of attitude for a second. It would have given it a head butt, just as the 15 year old main character, Mia, does to another girl in the first few minutes of the film. Katie Jarvis plays Mia as if her life depends on it, with all the piss, vinegar and vulnerability befitting such a breakout role. Michael Fassbender is excellent as Connor, new boyfriend to Mia’s drunk mother (a razor sharp Kierston Wareing), a mysterious man whose affection for Mia is suspect. Arnold’s film makes no bones about its aim, and it hits its target with all the toughness it can muster. Life in London’s projects is as hard as anything out there, but what Jarvis, Fassbender, and Arnold seek is something that transcends a film about growing up in poverty. Mission accomplished. And boasting one of the best soundtracks of the past few years, Arnold has another thing to be proud of.
Note: There may be a few of you who, like me, sometimes wonder, just before slipping off to sleep, or driving an empty, moonlit highway “I wonder whatever did happen to the Hedgehog’s Horse, out there in the fog?” If I’ve lost you, go back and watch Yuri Norstein’s monumentally classic short film, The Hedgehog in the Fog. If you are still with me, then go watch Fish Tank for a possible answer to those melancholic queries.