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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Criterion A Day #2 - Fish Tank

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films...

Pop Culture Beast presents a Criterion-a-Day, reviewing Criterion titles daily (until we run out).

Fish Tank

Spine # 553
Written and Directed by Andrea Arnold
Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierson Wareing, Rebecca Griffiths, Harry Treadaway and Sydney Mary Nash

From the box:

British director Andrea Arnold won the Cannes Jury Prize for the intense and invigorating Fish Tank, a bout a fifteen-year-old girl, Mia (electrifying newcomer Katie Jarvis), who lives with her mother and sister in the housing projects of Essex.  Mia's adolescent conflicts and emerging sexuality reach a boiling point when her mother's new boyfriend (a lethally attractive Michael Fassbender) enters the picture.  In her young career, Arnold has already proven herself to be a master of social realism, evoking the work of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach; and she invests her sympathetic portraits of dead-end lives with poetic, earthy sensibility all her own.  Fish Tank heralds the official arrival of a major new filmmaker.

It's not just Andrea Arnold who makes a splash with this film, it's Katie Jarvis who delivers a wonderfully real and nuanced performance.  She is excellent as the tough-as-nails Mia who wants nothing more than to be a dancer despite her lot in life.

Andrea Arnold has crafted a deep intense film that is elevated by the wonderful performances of Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender.  It does seem a little predictable at times, you really do know where this is going to go as soon as certain characters show up but it doesn't end up the way you might have thought. 

Some may say the ending is a little pat but to be honest, I liked how it ended.  It seemed genuine.  I won't spoil it, don't worry.

Criterion again delivers a wonderful transfer.  The film looks great and the sound is perfect.  As for special features, this one delivers quite well.  The set includes a video interview, audio conversation with Michael Fassbender, audition footage, stills, trailers, an essay from Ian Christie and three short films from Andrea Arnold:  Milk, Dog, and Wasp (Oscar winner).

While Fish Tank isn't groundbreaking by any means it is taken from the run of the mill movie it could have been by its lead's triumphant performance.

Criterion Collection #553
Pop Culture Beast Rating

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