Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fish Tank DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Raw Brit Melodrama Available on DVD

This searing, coming-of-age saga, written and directed by Andrea Arnold, earned the #2 spot on my Top 10 List of Independent Films of 2010. Although the movie doesn’t revolve around a fish tank, that still might be the best way to describe the cramped confines of the modest flat which serves as the setting for this increasingly-claustrophobic, pressure cooker.
Joanne Williams (Kierston Wareing) doesn’t look old enough to have a 15 year-old daughter, and the immature single-mom certainly doesn’t behave in a responsible enough fashion to be raising Mia (Katie Jarvis) and her kid sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths). First of all, she’s an irascible, foul-mouthed lush, traits she’s already passed on to her troubled teenager.
Consequently, Mia has ended up an angry, friendless alcoholic who’s always at odds with the world. This is not a healthy frame of mind when you’re stuck in the forbidding environs of the Essex projects, a maze of cold, towering edifices, each overlooking the vast, soulless wasteland of a totally-defoliated concrete jungle.
At the point of departure, it is established that Mia is a wanksta (white gangsta) who loves to dress, walk and talk hip hop-style, plus she’s doing her best to teach herself to breakdance in order to enter a competition. But she also like boys, and lands in hot water after head-butting a classmate whom she considers competition for the affections of a guy she likes.
Between that infraction and the booze, it isn’t long before Mia isn’t going to school anymore, but instead hanging out at home and contemplating working as a stripper. A little hope comes into the rudderless juvenile’s life the morning Connor (Michael Fassbender) staggers out of her mother’s bedroom after a one-night stand.
He compliments gyrating Mia by telling her that, “You dance like a black,” and it isn’t long before he further ingratiates himself with the needy girls as her new father figure. Too bad sexually-impulsive Joanne hadn’t bothered to determine whether the guy was married, had any kids or was a pervert before introducing him to her daughters. For, there is only danger in store as she endeavors to cobble a relationship with a pedophile who’s just waiting for the right moment to pounce on an emotionally-vulnerable juvenile.
Trouble in Cockneyland.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 122 Minutes
Distributor: The Criterion Collection
DVD Extras: three short films by director Andrea Arnold, a video interview with actress Kierston Wareing, audio conversation with actor Michael Fassbender, audition footage, a stills gallery, the theatrical trailer, plus a booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Ian Christie.

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