After her very impressive debut with Red Road, Andrea Arnold impresses once again with a slice of teenage life viewed under a powerful microscope. On a rundown Essex council estate Mia (Katie Jarvis) lives with her single mum (Kierston Wareing) and gobby younger sister (Rebecca Griffiths).
Excluded from school and unable to contain her frustration and anger at everything and everyone, Mia seems to be slipping close and closer to ASBO hell. She has no friends, nowhere to go and nothing to do, although she dreams of being a dancer. When mum starts seeing a new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender) Mia feigns disinterest in him, but secretly she is intrigued and is soon casting him as the father figure she has never known. But with teenage hormones rampaging, the relationship between Mia and Connor changes into something less innocent and positive, with Mia developing a dangerous crush that will tear her family apart.
Although there is an element of inevitability about the story arc of Fish Tank, Arnold directs with flashes of pure genius and beauty. In the midst of the concrete gloom of the estate, dark orange sunbeams will dance through windows, the image of a vast wind turbine slowly turning is used throughout the film, while the scene of the mother and her two daughters dancing silently together in the front room of their flat speaks of ties of love that can never be articulated in words.
Katie Jarvis, who had never acted before, has to carry the bulk of the movie and does so with an assurance that is almost scary. One to watch and savour.