FISH TANK (2009)

fish tank fass

Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Harry Treadaway, Kierston Wareing, Rebecca Griffiths

Directed by: Andrea Arnold

Synopsis: Everything changes for fifteen-year-old Mia when her mum brings home a new boyfriend.

This film, a critics favourite five years ago, could well be the definition of a ‘kitchen-sink’ drama. If it was set in America it would be in the projects, in Brazil it would be the favelas and India the slums. It is a slice of real life on the council estates up and down England, in the same way that Harry Brown was. Which is to say, I’m sure such events aren’t commonplace but not overly dramatised.

The film follows Mia (Jarvis), the daughter of a single mother growing up in a council flat. She is angry at the world and everyone around her. Like most kids in that situation she drinks to escape her lack of self esteem and the feeling of being unloved. Her great passion is dancing. Her aimless life however, is intterupted when she encounters her mums new boyfriend Connor (Fassbender). He seems like a nice guy, and is clearly a bit of a flirt, sending mixed signals to the impressionable teen.

Fish Tank is a superb drama, not for the feint hearted. The language is strong and the all around air of violence is never far away. Not that it breaks out in to much, it just comes across as intimidating. More so for the English viewer, to whom it will feel all to real in parts.

Michael Fassbender is brilliant as usual, in what was a breakout role for him. The main acclaim should be reserved for Katie Jarvis in the lead role though. The story goes that she was cast after the producers saw her having an argument with her boyfriend at a train station. It’s her first acting gig, and looking at her IMDb page, her last to date. Praise also for her little sister in the film, played by Rebecca Griffiths, who had me in stitches with her foul mouth.

A fantastic working class British film to add to the likes of Kes, Nil by Mouth and Trainspotting before it.

4 clappers

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.


  1. I have not seen this. You make me think I ought change that.

    Good review.

  2. giorge thomas

    Yay! Glad you saw this. It’s disturbing, isn’t it? Good but disturbing. Love MF. Love, love, love him. Maybe YOU should write a poem for mr about MF.

  3. Great review, will check this movie out.

  4. I keep meaning to watch this, it’s in my NetFlix queue at the moment. Think I might move it up a few places after reading your review.

  5. I remember hearing the positive response to this movie when released, and your review has convinced me to see it now.

  6. I’m with you, I enjoyed this film quite a bit myself: Especially the performances, but it’s also interesting from a directing standpoint. Good stuff!

  7. This looks like it’s a good movie!

  8. Great review, Tom. Seems like another movie for my TBW list. 🙂

  9. Pretty dark and dirty stuff here, however, still really worked. Shame I haven’t Jarvis in much since this, as she gives the type of naturalistic performance a character like this would need to be believable. Good review.

  10. I saw this some time ago – a great film, written and directed by Andrea Arnold. Red Road, which she also wrote and directed is well worth a look too, though it isn’t the easiest watch.

  11. I reviewed this a little while ago!! I thought it was very good, except extremely bleak. And of course rather cliché.

    • It produced some quite fantastic performances didn’t it, especially from the female lead, who I’m not sure has done anything else before or since! Can’t beat Fassbender as well!!

      • Fassbender is the UK’s DiCaprio! It did certainly do that. The thing that irritated me slightly was I almost felt it was made by some middle class person who didn’t really know much about the working class and just made a rather patronising movie. Having said that, it was extremely real, at the same time.

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