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Fish Tank

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Fish Tank

Katie Jarvis in 'Fish Tank.'

IFC Films
Katie Jarvis, the star of Andrea Arnold's second film Fish Tank, was discovered at the train tracks, fighting with a boyfriend. She's not a trained actress; but as the angry and vulnerable Mia, fifteen-years-old, increasingly desperate, the girl never seems to be acting. She exists -- breathing, dancing, grasping for love.
Mia lives in an housing project in Essex with her criminally indifferent mother (Kierston Wareing) and her little sister Sophie, who like Mia, seems unable not to say anything that is not a curse. What we quickly come to understand is that both of these girls have to learned to put on a tough front, but their hard veneers crack when Mum brings home a new boyfriend, the charming Connor (Michael Fassbender).

His appearance in their lives almost seems too good to be true -- and of course, it is. Connor means well, but he is Mia's mother's boyfriend. And Mia, always dancing, thrusting and gyrating to hip hop, is an obvious temptation. It's hard not to watch Arnold's gritty drama as if it's not a horror film. Mia seems so tough -- early in the film, she head butts another girl, breaking her nose, but at the same time, she seems sure snap right in half, as tightly wound as she is.

When wronged, Mia does not accept defeat. Katie Jarvis is achingly good. Mia's life can go either way. A botched attempt at revenge is positively scary. Fish Tank is unremittingly bleak, but somehow, allows room for hope. "I hate you," foul mouthed Sophie tells her sister at the film's end -- which means, of course, "I love you." Mia hates her, too.

Fish Tank (2009)

Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, Harry Treadaway, Jack Gordon Directed by: Andrea Arnold
Produced by: Christine Langan, David M. Thompson, Paul Trijbits
Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.
Release Date: January 15th, 2010 (limited)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributors: IFC Films
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