Viewport width =
March 29, 2010 | by  | in Film |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Fish Tank


Fish Tank’s title is obviously metaphorical, painfully so. Andrea Arnold’s interest in voyeurism is as ever-present here as it was in her feature-length debut, Red Road, but Fish Tank is far more ambitious, positioning the audience as the people watching from behind the glass. It’s in turn gripping and frustrating, as Arnold’s insistence on authenticity of experience gives us characters whose actions and thoughts are provocative and stirring, but in doing so she takes the titular metaphor too far, the characters swimming around in circles before flurries of action grab our interest.

Katie Jarvis is electric as fierce, potty-mouthed 15-year-old Mia, giving her a rough edge that belies her defensive nature. She’s wholly believable as the most ambitious fish in the tank, the one who continuously tries to leap out and make its way to the sea but never seems to succeed. Michael Fassbender plays opposite her as her mother’s new boyfriend, the charming, cultured Connor. Like Jarvis, Fassbender feels authentic, nailing his character and sucking us in with his agreeable nature. The two primarily excel, however, in the way they betray their characters’ hidden weaknesses, allowing us surreptitious glimpses of them as they slowly grow out of their pigeonholes. In a world where hostility is the status quo and life is as repulsive as it is depressing, these characters embody Fish Tank’s Glaswegian gloom, the aspiring escapee and the symbol of her hope. They are not what they seem, and what they seem is only good because of what it could grow into, rather than what it is. Arnold’s is a decidedly cynical worldview, one where escape is simply moving to another tank.

Much like this review, Arnold expounds constantly on the fish tank metaphor, even though it is never explicitly referenced in the film. The film is full of close-ups and hand-held camera shots that get us in, but not too close, almost like a glass barrier between us and the action. Meanwhile, the film sees the audience tapping the glass constantly, waiting for something to happen, only to jump back in surprise when the fish move with alarming speed and recklessness. But while this approach makes Fish Tank a sluggish film, it also makes it a captivating one, and there’s never any sense that what we’re watching is false.

Directed by: Andrea Arnold
Part of the World Cinema Showcase

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.

Recent posts

  1. Beyond Pink and Blue
  2. It is Enough: Reflections on Pride
  3. In the Mirror: Queer, Brown and Catholic
  4. “Representation”: Victoria Rhodes-Carlin Is Running For Greater Wellington Regional Council
  5. The Community Without A Home: Queer Homeslessness in Aotearoa
  6. Pasifika Queer in Review
  7. The National Queer in Review
  8. Māori Queer in Review
  9. LGBTQI Project Report Update
  10. International Queer in Review

Editor's Pick

Burnt Honey

: First tutorial of the year. When I open the door, I underestimate my strength, thinking it to be all used up in my journey here. It swings open violently and I trip into the room where awkward gazes greet me. Frozen, my legs are lead and I’m stuck on display for too long. My ov

Do you know how to read? Sign up to our Newsletter!

* indicates required