Fish Tank (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrea Arnold|
|Produced by||Nick Laws
David M. Thompson
|Written by||Andrea Arnold|
|Editing by||Nicolas Chaudeurge|
UK Film Council
Kasander Film Company
|Distributed by||IFC Films|
|Running time||124 minutes|
Fish Tank is a 2009 British drama film written and directed by Andrea Arnold. The film won the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. It also won the 2010 BAFTA for Best British Film. It was filmed in the Mardyke Estate in Havering, the town of Tilbury, and the A13, and funded by BBC Films and the UK Film Council.
Mia Williams is a volatile and socially isolated 15-year-old. She lives on an East London council estate with her single mother, Joanne, and younger sister, Tyler, and is highly antagonistic toward both of them. Mia is a loner, appearing to have had a falling out with her best friend Keely. She provokes Keely's other friends and head butts another girl when Mia criticises their dance routine. Mia regularly practises hip-hop dance alone in a deserted flat.
Near the estate, Mia comes across a skinny, tethered horse in a traveller encampment. She tries to free it, only to be caught, taunted, and assaulted by two young men, the horse's owners. A third young man, Billy, the brother of the other two, is more sympathetic. He explains that the horse is old and ill and he befriends Mia.
Joanne's new boyfriend, Connor O'Reily, is a charming and handsome Irishman. He drives Joanne, Mia, and Tyler on a day-trip into the countryside. He is eager to get along with both of Joanne's daughters. He introduces them to his favourite song, Bobby Womack's version of "California Dreamin'", shows Mia how to catch a fish using noodling, and asks her to show off her dance moves. Although Mia is abrupt with Connor, she also appears to be intrigued by him.
Mia goes to a cybercafe and watches amateur breakdancing videos on YouTube. Just as Mia is about to leave, she finds a flyer for a club seeking dancers and at the door, Keely's friends enter and they exchange taunts. Walking, Mia sees Connor at work. Connor encourages Mia to apply for the dancing audition. He lends her a video camera to record an audition tape. One night Mia secretly witnesses Connor and Joanne having sex. Mia then goes back to her room and slams the door several times. Mia sends in her tape and is invited by the club to perform in person. Late one night, with Joanne passed out drunk upstairs, and after Mia and Connor have both been drinking, he asks to see her dance routine in the living room. When she dances to "California Dreamin'", Connor then invites her to sit next to him, he caresses her, they kiss and they have sex. Returning to Joanne's bedroom, Connor tells Mia to keep their liaison a secret.
The following morning, Mia hears her mother crying, Tyler tells her that Connor has left. Mia tracks him down to his home in Chadwell St Mary and confronts him. He explains he cannot see Joanne or Mia any more. He drives her to Tilbury Town railway station and gives her her fare home. Instead, Mia makes her way back to Connor's house. It is unoccupied, so Mia sneaks in through an unlocked back window. She finds Connor's camera in the living room and while watching his videos she discovers that he has a wife and young daughter, Keira. Shocked and upset, Mia vandalises their home by urinating on the living room floor, then goes upstairs to wash her face. Upon hearing Connor and his wife returning, she quickly escapes by sneaking out of the back door.
Back in the road in front of the house, Mia sees Keira riding her scooter. On impulse, she pressures Keira to go with her under the claim that Keira's mother told Mia to take her for ice cream. They then go out into the fields and eventually reach the River Thames, where a suspicious and scared Keira tries to escape. Mia catches up with her, but in a struggle Mia pushes Keira, who then falls into the turbulent river water and disappears. She resurfaces after several seconds and Mia pulls her out, then takes her home as night falls. When they reach Connor's house, Mia sends Keira to her house then sneaks away, but as she is walking back towards the train station, Connor's car screeches to a halt beside her. Mia attempts to run away, but Connor chases her, catches up with her, and slaps her, knocking her to the ground. He then walks away and drives off without saying a word.
The next day, Mia goes to her audition. It is immediately obvious that it is for erotic dancers. The other participants are all grown women wearing heavy makeup and provocative clothing. Mia takes the stage, but as the music starts, and before her dancing begins, she walks off.
Mia goes in search of Billy. When she arrives at his place, Billy tells her that the horse has died. Mia sinks to the ground and starts crying. Billy says he is moving to Cardiff, Wales, and invites her to join him.
Mia returns home to pack, dances with Joanne and Tyler, and goes to Billy's car after hugging Tyler goodbye. The two set off for Wales.
- Katie Jarvis as Mia Williams
- Kierston Wareing as Joanne Williams
- Michael Fassbender as Connor O'Reily
- Rebecca Griffiths as Tyler Williams
- Harry Treadaway as Billy
- Sydney Mary Nash as Keira O'Reily
- Sarah Bayes as Keely
Katie Jarvis, who plays Mia, had no prior acting experience. She was cast for the film after one of Arnold's casting assistants saw her arguing with her boyfriend in Tilbury Town railway station, which is the station featured in the film.
Principal photography began 28 July 2008 over the course of six weeks, and was filmed in chronological order. At the end of each week the actors were given the scripts for the scenes that they would perform the following week, so that when they performed each scene they were largely unaware of what would happen to their characters later in the film.
Music features prominently in the film, particularly connected with Mia's dancing. The song she uses at her audition is "California Dreamin'", as covered by Bobby Womack (1968). The CD she borrows from Connor is The Best of Bobby Womack (2008), on which "California Dreamin'" appears on track 17, as Mia requests. Towards the beginning of the film, the song "Me & U" by Cassie is also used and the video for Down 4 U by Ja Rule and Ashanti is watched by Mia when she first meets Connor.
Other songs include "Jah Rule (w/ Paul St. Hilaire)" by Rhythm & Sound (Album: W/The Artists), "Life's a Bitch" by Nas, "Just to Get a Rep" by Gang Starr, "Cool Down the Pace" by Gregory Isaacs, "Your House" by Steel Pulse, "Juice" by Eric B and Rakim, "Baby girl" by Wiley, "Show Me Love" (Stonebridge Club Mix) by Robin S, "Get Up Offa That Thing" by James Brown, "In The Fading Light" by New Device, and "Original Nuttah" by Shy FX & UK Apache.
The film currently holds a 90% "certified fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 132 reviews. The New Yorker's David Denby writes, "Fish Tank may begin as a patch of lower-class chaos, but it turns into a commanding, emotionally satisfying movie, comparable to such youth-in-trouble classics as The 400 Blows".
Fish Tank was released domestically on 11 September 2009 taking £103,180 on its first weekend and a total of £332,488. As of 15 June 2010, the film earned $374,675 in the United States and $1,612,034 elsewhere, bringing the worldwide total to $1,986,709.
A new high-definition digital transfer of the film was released on DVD and Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection in February 2011. Extras include three short films by director Andrea Arnold: Milk (1998), Dog (2001), and the Oscar-winning Wasp (2003).
- "Festival de Cannes: Fish Tank". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 9 May 2009.
- Fish Tank at Box Office Mojo
- Press Book, p. 10
- Higgins, Charlotte (14 May 2009). "How row set in train life-changing offer for Fish Tank star". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
- Hoyle, Ben (14 May 2009). "Station row led Katie Jarvis to stardom in British film Fish Tank". The Times. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
- Ebert, Roger (3 February 2010). "Fish Tank". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- "Principal photography commences on Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank". BBC. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- David, Fear (14 January 2010). "Michael Fassbender: The middle man". Time Out New York. Retrieved 28 January 2010.
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1232776/soundtrack "Fish Tank" movie soundtrack details at IMDB, 2009
- Denby, David (18 January 2010). "Wastelands". New Yorker: 82.
- "Fish Tank". The Criterion Collection.
- Fish Tank at the Internet Movie Database
- Fish Tank at allmovie
- Fish Tank at Box Office Mojo
- Fish Tank at Rotten Tomatoes
- Fish Tank at Metacritic
|Jury Prize, Cannes
tied with Thirst
A Screaming Man