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Fish Tank (2009)

tomatometer

90

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 141
Fresh: 127 | Rotten: 14

Cannes Jury Prize-winner Fish Tank is gritty British realism at its very best, with flawless performances from newcomer Kate Jarvis, and Michael Fassbender.

92

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 37
Fresh: 34 | Rotten: 3

Cannes Jury Prize-winner Fish Tank is gritty British realism at its very best, with flawless performances from newcomer Kate Jarvis, and Michael Fassbender.

audience

79

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 12,236

My Rating

Movie Info

A mother and daughter find themselves locked in an ugly battle over the same man in this drama from writer and director Andrea Arnold. Mia Williams (Katie Jarvis) is 15 years old and lives in a shabby apartment block with her mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), and younger sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths). Mia is a reckless and rebellious teenager who frequently argues with her mother and sister and has run afoul of the authorities at school, leading to her being suspended. With plenty of time

Unrated,

Art House & International, Drama

Andrea Arnold

Mar 22, 2010

$0.2M

IFC

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All Critics (142) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (127) | Rotten (14) | DVD (5)

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.

July 7, 2010 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A bold new entry in the long-standing British tradition of disquieting social realism.

July 4, 2010 Full Review Source: NPR
NPR
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The characters are guarded, and as we come to understand them scene by scene, they become ever harder to sort into convenient categories of hero and villain.

March 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Writer-director Andrea Arnold, working in British lower-class realism, still finds wondrous moments of connection in Mia's life.

March 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Writer-director Andrea Arnold has created something so real and raw, you may come away with a twinge of guilty voyeurism, a sense of peering too closely and impolitely into other people's lives.

March 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Associated Press
Associated Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Katie Jarvis has a natural presence that matches the unsentimental minimalism of the film.

March 4, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Fish Tank is a very strong effort at every level, and should signal great things to come for all involved. Bloody good movie.

August 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinemania

The film becomes a caricature of arthouse miserabilism, which asserts that the only truths are the ugly ones.

March 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

The film is remarkable for its depth. It's not drilling in a message about the hopelessness of poverty, nor is it stylising the lifestyle of those living on council estates.

March 1, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

Reveals the incidental arrival of the first trickles of emerging maturity.

February 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

Plenty of films have presented us with the Angry Young Man but not so many with the Angry Young Woman ...Andrea Arnold does her bit to help correct this imbalance with Fish Tank...

January 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Playback:stl
Playback:stl

Stark, powerful drama for older teens and adults.

December 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Mia is not treated like an overly clever ingénue (as in An Education) or as a pious, almost impossibly well-adjusted soul (as in Precious) or worse, as Bella Swan.

October 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Quickflix
Quickflix

( ... ) Fish Tank feels more fluid, more passionate than other recent English films about the wretched working classes.

September 10, 2010 Full Review Source: The Stranger (Seattle, WA)

The film's rough patches are ... considerably smoothed over by its performers.

July 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

Performances are excellent but this is an exceptionally grim experience.

June 2, 2010 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Andrea Arnold seems to be trying hard to emulate the hard edged work of her English realist masters, but she is selfish and uncaring about her audience

May 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

It's a tough film and while the ground covered does not bring any surprises, the journey we take is filled with gritty realism and the outcomes realistic

May 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

One of the best British films of recent years, Fish Tank marks a leap forward from Arnold's first feature, the contrived Red Road.

May 28, 2010 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

Arnold is still a director to watch: the film is fragile, and not faultless: but while Streetdance 3D is raging uptown, do take a look at this one to understand, among other things, how very personal and expressive dance can be for the young.

May 28, 2010 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

Not finely polished like a big budget film, Fish Tank's ability to connect with audiences is reflected in the multiple awards the film, its director and its star have received.

May 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Trespass
Trespass

A well shot and uniformly well acted film which draws the audience in by an increasingly tense and dramatic narrative.

May 25, 2010 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

It's an absolute credit to her that she is able to evoke sympathy and empathy for such a prickly and volatile screen character.

May 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (Australia)
Sunday Times (Australia)

Arnold achieves an utterly mesmerising pas de trois.

May 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

Audience Reviews for Fish Tank

Look for this slight British coming-of-age bit that packs a wallop (reminiscent of the kitchen sink productions of the late 50's/early 60's for gritty realism)and don't let it go by as all the actors but especially the newbie director/writer Andrea Arnold delivers the goods in this story about the desire to belong for a young 15 year old wannabe dancer.
January 7, 2013
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

Realist youth drama about a girl from the British underclass who enjoys dancing and little else. The acting is top notch, from the amateurs and protagonist Katie Jarvis to Michael Fassbender who soon became one of the coming Hollywood shooting stars. And so we follow Mia around a lot, from the concrete apartments to a trailer park where an old horse is tied up. That's pretty interesting for the longest time but loses a bit of its path in the end, could have used some trimming as well. Still, an entertaining, disenchanting and raw look at lower class society and the sad outlook today's kids have on life.
December 23, 2012
ironclad1609

Super Reviewer

Katie Jarvis gave an outstanding performance in this. Not good for a night you need a pick-me-up though. Even if you think that pick-me-up is Michael Fassbender.
November 18, 2012
Julie

Super Reviewer

A troubled teen finds hope in dance and aggression everywhere else.
There wasn't a moment during Fish Tank when I didn't think that the camera was following a real person in a troubled life. With the handheld follow shots and the extended takes of Mia walking the streets, the film is shot in a style that is meant to be "real" but isn't; what created the realistic feel were the performances by the leads, especially newcomer Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender. As a character, Mia walks a dangerous line of being remarkably unlikable, and I wouldn't blame many viewers if she crossed that line for them, but for me, Jarvis's performance and the script was able to keep me interested in Mia and keep me hoping for her, which was a challenging task. Mia is written so that everything she does is both senseless and logical (but only within her own emotional and intellectual framework); she's both impetuous and meticulous. Contradictions like these make the character interesting even as her actions make her detestable.
The story is pretty predictable, but I don't think we go into films like these for the plot twists.
Overall, Fish Tank is one of the better adolescent character studies I've seen in a while, and Katie Jarvis could be a promising talent.
June 5, 2012
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

    1. Tyler: [runs after car, shouts to Mia inside] Don't forget to text me! Say hello to the Welsh for me!
    – Submitted by rob g (3 years ago)
    1. Mia: Can you give Keeley a message for me? Tell her I think her old man's a cunt!
    – Submitted by rob g (3 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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