DRAMA; 1hr 52min
STARRING: Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Griffiths
Messing around: Jarvis and Fassbender
In the 2006 tin-tacks drama Red Road, writer-director Andrea Arnold ripped into the aftermath of loss. Fish Tank is likewise set in the self-sealed world of council estates, this time in Essex, where for 15-year-old Mia (Jarvis) anger and aimlessness dictate every day. Mia is a thorn in everyone’s side. She refuses to attend school, her sexy young single mum, Joanne (Wareing), resents her presence, her kid sister (Griffiths) is a brat and her former friends don’t want to know. All she cares about is hip-hop, which doesn’t exactly guarantee a future. Then Joanne brings home a new and seemingly decent bloke (Fassbender) and life, already messy, gets messier.
Arnold keeps the cadence loose and easy and the performances scaled back — these are not people who talk a lot, and what they do say isn’t operatic. The unknown and untrained Jarvis carries the lion’s share of trouble and strife with the commanding intuition of someone who’s been acting for years. She is in every taxing scene and everything we feel for abrasive misfit Mia — a girl who can barely tolerate herself — is entirely down to her.