11 of #52FilmsByWomen: Fish Tank


Fish Tank (2009, written and directed by Andrea Arnold)

[11 of 52 in #52FilmsByWomen]

By now, it’s probably a well-worn cinematic trope that most teenagers are depicted as rebellious and apathetic. Though very few movies really explore why they tend to act that way. Fish Tank is one of the movies that explores the life of a somewhat delinquent teenager fairly well.

In Fish Tank, we follow the life of Mia Williams (Katie Jarvis), a 15-year-old aspiring hip-hop dancer from a somewhat dysfunctional family. She lives with an irresponsible mother who appears to drink too much and a bratty, foul-mouthed younger sister. She strikes an unlikely friendship with Connor, who is her mother’s boyfriend played by Michael Fassbender.

Even though everyone in her family is messed-up in their own way, the movie doesn’t pass judgment on any of their actions. (Especially Mia who does some pretty horrible things in the movie.) Neither should we, perhaps. The movie isn’t interested in any `moral’ lessons to be learned from their situation, but rather to explore a slice of (Mia’s) life in this English family.

If we’d met Mia, or someone like her in real life, we’d probably wouldn’t like her. She’s cold, unlikeable and confrontational. She constantly acts on impulse, and then her impulsive decisions keep getting herself and other people in trouble.

However, since the story is told form her perspective, we might empathise with her. Even though we might not agree with her actions, we could at least see where she’s coming from. Katie Jarvis was completely believable and did an excellent job portraying Mia with all the complexities of her emotions as a result of the hard neighbourhood she grew up in.


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