Michael Fassbender Season is coming to an end and as I watched the dvds in the order the good Royal Mail delivered them 2009’s Fish Tank is one of the last to be viewed:
PLOT: Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a very streetwise fifteen year old girl who lives with her drunken mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing) and younger sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) in a run down Essex Council Estate. The family have a volatile relationship until Joanne starts to date charming Irishman Connor (Michael Fassbender). Mia and Connor form an awkward friendship in which Connor encourages Mia to open up to him and to carry out her dream of becoming a dancer. As the family begin to grow closer Mia discovers that all is not what it seems with Connor which causes her to grow up quickly and in the harshest of circumstances. END PLOT
The plot of Fish Tank is very strong and the broken family’s interactions with one another are all too real and at times devastatingly sad. The dialogue free moment with Mia, her mother and sister making their peace with one another by dancing together was surprisingly emotional.
The character of Mia was very well written as there were many layers to the angry teen act. Mia’s dance arc was very much kept as a side story and the main focus remained on her turbulent relationship with her family - Fish Tank did not turn into a grittier version of Step Up.
Katie Jarvis was literally picked off the Essex streets to play Mia and for someone with no acting experience she gave a very genuine performance.
Michael Fassbender is easily charming as Connor although he does have some dark moments. The scene with Mia dancing for Connor as he stares intently at her is very unsettling. I found myself seeing where that scene was heading and willing it to take another turn. It didn’t.
The supporting cast all gave very strong performances but Fish Tank is Jarvis’ film and she carried it exceptionally well.
There are some lighter moments and the humour mostly comes from Tyler, her foul mouth and some cracking one liners. The fact that Tyler is so young makes the humour bitter-sweet as this is a child who will have no option but to grow up into another version of Mia and thereafter her mother causing this version of a council estate upbringing to continue all over again.
If I were to pick a flaw in Fish Tank it would be the length as the film is just over two hours long. There was a section in the middle which did drag slightly so I think tighter editing was needed to keep the fast paced film flowing evenly.
Fish Tank is a very strong and very British coming of age drama which doesn’t shy away from the fact that not all teens get a happy ending. It gets a very decent 8.5/10.