Lifes a bitch…

Monday 5th October 2009

Fish Tank (2009)


So its been a year pretty much to the day since I started this ‘blog’ and perhaps more importantly over half a year since I last made an entry. Still seems fitting that the first film I’ve been really inspired to write reams and reams of scholistic drivel about falls on the anniversay of the gestation of this humble internet film log. I have in fact had remarkably good fortune with trips to the cinema of late, following from a calender year of mostly subpar nonsense. To be fair I’ve always liked this time of the year at the cinema, we’ve gotten over the glitz and glamour and common dissapointment of the summer blockbuster season, and we’ve got a short respite before the Christmas schmaltz and the onslaught of the Oscar hopes and instead we’re allowed a couple of months of understated, cool and off centre flicks that elsewhere in the year would get forgotten.

Anyway, my own good run at the flicks started with Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker (good but not quite ‘this generation’s Apocalypse Now‘ as many hoped for), followed by Adventureland a week later which had a certain undertstated brilliance to it and smacked of classic coming of age flicks of the ilk of The Last Picture Show, American Grafitti and Dazed And Confused. Then last week I watched Away We Go which was sweet and fluffy and made me smile from ear to ear.

Finally, we come to my reason for remembarking on this blog – my trip this evening to see Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank. Arnold’s previous effort Red Road was grim and bleak as hell but was also brilliantly made, and was quite thrankly one of the best British films in years. I knew fairly little about Fish Tank other than the fact that it was directed by Arnold, it was set in Essex (represent!) and some lore about the ‘star’ Katie Jarvis getting discovered arguing with her boyfriend on a train platform.

Fish Tank had me hooked fairly from the get go with its veritee shooting style and its caustic but improvisional-esque (is that a word?) dialogue. Along with Shane Meadows, Andrea Arnold seems to be the only writer/director who can portray British coloquial dialogue without it coming off as contrived or put on in any way. The most wonderful thing about Fish Tank is of course Jarvis, who is note perfect as Mia, but it is Arnold’s direction of her character that really sets this film apart country miles about from its contemporaries. Fish Tank is wonderfulfully current and its depiction of the Essex milieu – caught between the urban jungle and and the suburbia now populated by the post-war diaspora from the East End – which I know so well from my youth, was spot on. (A further inter-urban divide is highlighted between Mia’s high rise estates and the modern Barrat style homes where she tracks Connor to.) Mia’s position within this environment, lost among the high rise estates that contain her, and at odds with almost everyone she comes in contact with, speaks of an alienation that is reminiscent of Antonioni’s best poetry on urban estrangement. And I mean that, I truely believe Fish Tank can sit side by side with the likes of L’eclisse and Red Desert in those stakes.

There is so much more to the film that I could prattle on about. The subplot involving the horse on the traveller’s compound added an analogous element to Mia’s tale (‘She’s 16 – she lived a long life’). And of course there was a recurring theme of Mia wanting to dance, and actually on one level you could totally look at Fish Tank as another ‘dance flick’ along the lines of Step Up, Save The Last Dance and erm B-Girl(!), albeit a cerebral arthouse dance flick that was staggeringly brilliant.

Film of the year.


One Response to “Lifes a bitch…”

  1. Mat Says:


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