Cannes 2009: The Tomato Report ? Andrea Arnold Hits with Fish Tank

While Lou Ye?s Spring Fever fails to impress critics on the ground.

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Returning to the Cannes Film Festival after a massive success there with your last film is a challenge for any filmmaker -- critics are quick to pounce on falls from form here. Andrea Arnold received an Oscar for her short film Wasp in 2004 and saw her debut feature as a director, Red Road get a competition spot and, ultimately, the jury prize when it played at Cannes in 2006.

The tale of Mia (newcomer Katie Jarvis), a 15-year-old whose penchant for trouble has seen her excluded from school and alienated from her friends, Fish Tank joins her on a hot summer's day as her foul-mouthed mother introduces her to the latest man in her life, Connor (Michael Fassbender). As Connor's relationship with Mia becomes closer and more intimate, questions about who he is and what he wants with her begin to surface, but in the haze of life in Britain's poorest neighbourhoods, no-one seems to be asking them.

Cannes 2009
Katie Jarvis in Fish Tank

Playing to rapturous applause at yesterday morning's press screening, critics wasted no time in praising Fish Tank for its immaculately-drawn characters. Speaking in a video posted to Hollywood Reporter, Ray Bennett claimed it was "a gripping, naturalistic, portrait of a disaffected teenager," adding that it was a "striking film with vivid performances."

Similarly full of praise was Dave Calhoun for Time Out, who gave the film five stars and said, "Arnold's portrayal of the inner life of this girl is as sensitive, imaginative and credible as her depiction of the wider world in which she lives."

Nevertheless, more than one critic reported to RT after the screening that the film could have done with being slightly shorter. Leslie Felperin wrote in Variety, "A bit of trimming on the pic's two-hour running time might not have gone amiss," but she added that it would have been hard to pick out scenes for the chopping block.

Meanwhile, Chinese director Lou Ye came to Cannes with Spring Fever, a tale of a closeted man and his relationship with a former drag singer. It certainly ticked boxes for daring to be different in China's heavily conservative film industry, but it hasn't been winning the critics over in Cannes.

Cannes 2009
Lou Ye's Spring Fever

"The screenplay is so convoluted and contains so many loose ends that the intense style only highlights the movie's occasional lapses into incoherence," writes Howard Feinstein in Screen International. Charles Gant, film critic for Heat Magazine, was a touch more optimistic about the film's weaknesses. "The wistful mood and vague plotting recall Wong Kar-wai's Buenos Aires gay love story Happy Together," he claims. "That's intended as a compliment."

Reviews continue to pour in for Pixar's Up, with the Tomatometer, at time of writing, counting 16 fresh reviews to no rotten ones. New additions include Sara Schieron's review for Boxoffice Magazine who said it was, "Breakneck speedy, hysterically funny and appropriately lithe," and Sukhdev Sandhu writing in the Daily Telegraph who claimed it was, "utterly delightful, certain to appeal to audiences young, old and all points in between."

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