Thursday, 17 September 2009

REVIEW: Fish Tank

I don't know what the reason is for it, but I've always kept this kind of British kitchen sink drama at arm's length. Maybe its because I might be the most middle class person who ever lived and the sound of a regional accent sends a subconscious shiver down my spine. I certainly hope not. Maybe its because that on the whole my deal with cinema is based around escapism, and tales about working class poverty might break the wonderful illusion I have created for myself. Who knows. But what I do know is that it something I wished to break as soon as possible, hence my seeing of this film, an extremely well reviewed but limitedly released drama about a brash 15 year old girl from a rundown Essex council estate, who dreams of being a dancer. Things change however when her mother's new boyfriend and brings some happiness into their deeply torrid and resentful family life.

The best thing about this film for me was how well writer-director Andrea Arnold and her actors communicate things without them being said, which is a very difficult thing to do, or at least to do well. But what Arnold and her actors, particularly newcomer Katie Jarvis, who is in fact acting in her first film ever, do is portray all the depth and subtleties of the story and characters wordlessly, as dialogue takes a perfunctory role and is a distant second to the smaller moments. I was very impressed by this with the non-reliance on show reel like verbal emotional out pours that is the bread and butter of the more mainstream films, everything important remains unsaid and its all the more powerful for it. Or maybe I'm saying this because I saw this movie right after seeing Gamer. Which is a distinct possibility. It features a terrific performance from Jarvis who should get some award recognition for this, but also features a great performance from Michael Fassbender, whom you may recognize from Inglourious Basterds, who's every bit as likable and charming as he's supposed to be in a deceptively complex role which goes to show that nice guys aren't even that nice.

Its also terrificly filmed, and is another example of why low budget doesn't have to mean visually pedestrian. Arnold captures the ordinary in all its working class glory, but she also has plenty of moments when she's really finding the beauty in the ordinary and thus this film looks a treat. Even when it had no right to. Its not perfect and has a couple of more broad characterizations in regards to chav's and chav like behaviour. But on the whole this is a very interesting, very ambitious and very moving little film. Worth hunting down.

Rating: 8/10

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