Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Fish Tank

Perhaps this mesmerizing film has a controversial story about the life of a lower class teenager, has scenes with girl-girl physical violence, verbal violence and other kinds of violence, and has scenes with an adult having sex with an underage girl, but the amazing skills that Andrea Arnold has made a hard to watch and sometimes predictable story an hypnotic complete cinematic experience that absolutely will blow your mind with fantastic visuals, a crude realistic style and most of all, the unbelievable good performance by newcomer Katie Jarvis playing Mia.

Jarvis performance is so good that you won’t be able to take off your eyes of the screen not even for a second; this is her movie and Arnold did such an excellent job directing her to so amazingly convey emotions and to perform so credibly that not very often you can see a novice doing it so well. Just for example, according to what Arnold says in an interview, Jarvis had to learn to dance as when she did the audition she was a really a terrible awkward dancer. When Mia dances you could never tell.

The movie tells the story of Mia, a 15-years-old a lonely girl that nobody pays attention to or cares about her; to hide her loneliness she's extremely aggressive to everyone. She dreams about being a dancer and when she dances is the only time that you don’t see any aggression even when dancing hip-hop can be quite aggressive. She lives with her hard drinking, quite young mother and her little sister. Everything -and I mean absolutely everything- changes when her mother finds a new boyfriend, Connor played by great Michael Fassbender.

To me this is the story of many young girls that have to live grownup life situations from very young age and are trapped in an unconventional lifestyle where the only exit is leaving everything, to go away and maybe, to never look back.

But if the story and actors performances are compelling, the movie as a movie is almost perfect as you can really notice the director’s attention to detail in everything: sets, cinematography, compositions, lighting, camera takes -including where to use handheld camera-, the so amazing music (the jazzy arrangement of California Dreaming is superb), and most of all how she plays with the storytelling as definitively teases the viewer constantly in so many different ways that you think is going to happen something and it does not, but eventually it does when you do not expect it. So, the story is kind of predictable, but you do not really know when is going to happen.

I can think about a few movies with similar stories, but none has the look, feel and style of Andrea Arnold’s oeuvre; definitively is a director that I will follow and hope to see her 2006 Cannes Jury Prize winner first film, Red Road. Fish Tank is only her second feature film.

As we know the film won (tie) the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes; since then has been honored in other festivals and I hope makes the short list of the European Awards where I don’t doubt that Katie Jarvis has to have a nomination for best newcomer. Also I’m almost sure that this film will make it at the 2010 BAFTA’s, it has to.

I enjoyed the film beyond my expectations -that were quite high- and strongly recommend it to everyone that likes excellent raw dramas, UK peculiar great cinema and most of all I recommend it to women all ages from everywhere in the world. Just remember that the story is raw, very realistic portrait of life, and has some not so easy to watch scenes. A must be seen for those that enjoy seriously good cinema.

This year Cannes showcased really remarkable films that travel the non-traditional styles of cinema; again, now more than before, I can’t wait to be able to watch the Palme d’Or winner!


Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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