Saturday, March 19, 2011

Netflix Stream This, Bitch!

Fish Tank
    Fish Tank is one of the latest British films that takes a close look at an aspect of the seedy underbelly of England. That's not to say this film deals with crime, violence or drug use (though it certainly does have bits and pieces of those things), but this movie shows what it's like growing up as an attractive 15-year old girl in an Essex housing project, dealing with a single mom and younger sister and all of the pressures that one feels (especially young women) when trying to survive in the teenage world. The film is another great piece to come out of England that completely succeeds as a study of social realism. Fish Tank is not for everyone: if you're one of those (dumb fuck) people who would never watch an independent movie because it's too slow or boring, than I would stay far away from this realistic portrait of a volatile teen girl. But if you want a challenging and rewarding movie-watching experience, then Fish Tank will be right up your alley.
     Mia is 15 years old, and she lives with her attractive, slutty mom and foul-mouthed younger sister. She's essentially a loner, travelling the landscape of misguided youths and dead metal machines by foot on a daily basis. One of her few escapes is an abandoned apartment in which she turns her music up loud and practices different varieties of hip hop dancing, a hobby that she dreams to turn into a profession one day. Thankfully, other than the dancing aspect, this film bears no resemblance to the Step Up pile-o-shit atrocities. Where the real plot lies is when Mia's mother's new boyfriend, Connor (played with scary charm by one of my favorites, Michael Fassbender), enters the picture with secrets of his own. He tries to bring a more fatherly aspect to the three-female family, and things do not go as planned.
     Yes, I know it sounds bleak, not something you would want to watch on a nice Saturday night; however, Fish Tank dodges many of the traps that other films of this type would fall right into. Instead of being depressing, it's empowering. This is the case because of the awesome performance by Katie Jarvis as Mia and the beautiful direction by Andrea Arnold. When you watch the film, you can see that Mia isn't a great dancer. But she enjoys the dancing when she is alone, so it is a success for what it is. The film cares less about what happens to Mia after the credits roll and instead just portrays the realistic nature of the life she has known since she has arrived on this Earth. Fish Tank is many things: it's about a girl caught somewhere between childhood and womanhood and all of the pressures and experiences that she handles on a daily basis. It's a story about following or giving up on your dreams. It's another great performance by the Irishman Michael Fassbender. And it's a great film.

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