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5,599 Ratings

Fish Tank

Directed by Andrea Arnold
United Kingdom, 2009


Mia, an aggressive 15-years-old who lives with her mother in an Essex housing project, hopes to walk away from her impoverished life by winning a national dance competition. But her adolescent conflicts and emerging sexuality reach a boiling point when her mother’s new boyfriend enters the picture.

Our take

A raw and potent look at a young woman’s rocky youth amidst poverty, Fish Tank is one of the best British films of the last decade. The fierce acting career of Michael Fassbender all started here, in Andrea Arnold’s breakthrough, landmark social realist drama.

Fish Tank Directed by Andrea Arnold
I could have chosen the completely different — but not all that unsimilar, if you think about it — Dogtooth, which came out the same year, but I like Fish Tank a little bit better, partly because of the dancing scenes to Bobby Womack’s cover of “California Dreamin’” (though I prefer José Feliciano’s cover) and Nas.
May 24, 2018
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We should be outraged. We’re not…. Arnold is so honest with her story and characters, and the actors so adept at revealing subtle, conflicted nuances, that it unfolds like it had to happen. It would be more insulting to Mia had Arnold made her spitfire little heroine the cardboard cutout victim — sagging in the aftermath of statutory rape. Instead, she allows this girl to have a serious crush, to feel lust, to yearn for one bright spot in her otherwise dreary life.
May 24, 2013
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The scope of the movie is completely Mia’s experience; the camera moves with her in almost every shot… FISH TANK fits well in the British tradition of social realism movies, but banishes any sentimentality in exchange for allowing its characters to respond fully to their ever-worsening circumstances. Still, in all that goes wrong, Arnold provides Mia, and thereby the audience, small moments of rest, beauty, and limited transcendence.
January 29, 2010
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