By Tim Lucia
Andrea Arnold’s 2009 film Fish Tank is her second feature after the equally excellent 2006 film Red Road. A hard-edged drama, Fish Tank provides a look into the life of a troubled young girl and the conflicts that surround her. Mia (Katie Jarvis), rebellious, angst-ridden, foul-mouthed 15-year old lives a lower-class existence in Essex with her precocious younger sister and their young, sexed-up, chain-smoking, and seemingly unloving mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing). Expelled from school, Mia spends her days wandering around her town drinking, causing trouble, and practicing her one passion, dancing. Joanne then brings home her new handsome Irish boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender), and he becomes friendly with Mia, encouraging her to pursue her love of dancing. Their relationship eventually takes a turn, and Mia sets out to change things in both her own life, and for those around her. Arnold has crafted an outstanding film here, with an excellent script and fantastic direction. Young Jarvis gives a performance to rival Jennifer Lawrence’s in Winter’s Bone. Fish Tank won Best Film at the 2009 BAFTA Awards (British equivalent of the Oscars) and won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes.