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Throwback Thursday: Fish Tank

Directed by Andrea Arnold, the 2009 film Fish Tank blows its audience away with a twisted view on reality. This film surpasses the norms of society by entering a realm of considerable incest, parental abuse and derogatory language. Furthermore, it’s imperative to take a closer look into the context of the film. Fish Tank takes one outside of his or her comfort zone and into a world where one must think about the underlying message. After viewing the movie, it was clear that all of the lashing out executed by Mia, who’s played by Katie Jarvis, was based on issues that had developed over the course of years.

            Additionally, the camera work in this film provides an intimacy between the audience and Mia. As Mia runs, the camera runs, making the audience feel like their running right with her. Specifically, looking at the scene of when Mia chased after Connor, played by Michael Fassbinder, the intensity of the situation is felt simultaneously with Mia because of the ruffled noised and realistic bounce of the camera as it runs along with the main character. Also, the composition of various medium shots and close-ups give an up-and-personal feel to the movie. Writer Roger Ebert explained, “Arnold sees everything through Mia's eyes and never steps outside to explain things from any other point of view.” Throughout most of the movie, shots are shown from where Mia is facing. Very seldom are their shots focused on Mia, which slowly builds a rapport between the audience and Mia’s point-of-view.

Furthermore, observing everything from Mia’s point-of-view makes it more difficult to relate with the other characters or even sympathize with them. For example, as the audience watches the relationship between Connor and Mia develops, all that comes to mind is if something actually is going to happen sexually; not if the pervert will be reprimanded for pursuing a child. But why is this? It’s quite simple. Clearly, Mia is a confused 15-year-old that lacks a father figure in her life; therefore, all she craves is love though it becomes quite apparent that she does not understand exactly what that means. Peter Bradshaw, writer of the Guardian, explained, “Mia has an enormous, poignant capacity for love, but she has never received any, certainly not from a damaged mother, whose one moment of intimacy with her daughter comes when she ferociously tells Mia that she was thinking of having her aborted.” So as an audience, we automatically sympathize with her and hope that she receives some sort of love. Granted, many would still convey that the kind of love that is wished for Mia excludes sex with a grown man.

Moreover, the rawness and naturalness of this movie, without a doubt, stems from the truth that lies within the story. Significantly, Actress Katie Jarvis lives on an Essex housing estate like the one in the movie, and she was discovered by Arnold while in an argument with her boyfriend at the Tilbury train station, which is seen in the movie. It takes a realistic view on life without any sugarcoating. Therefore, though certain scenes may seem incomprehensible they’re actually the reality of “broken Britain.” So yes, the movie enters another realm of British film, but in doing so, it opens the eyes of viewers, including myself. Which leads to what the director wanted viewers to see in the film. Bradshaw explained, “Arnold finds a way into the fashionable notion of a "Broken Britain", but in place of the pundits' dismay and contempt, she offers tenderness and hope.”  Life isn’t always picture- perfect and also may never become picture-perfect in the future. That’s the moral of this twisted story, which was demonstrated in the conclusion of the film as Mia ran away from home with a boy that she had just met over the course of a few weeks. Regardless, this throwback British film has received praise and numerous awards for its brilliant delivery; a film that I would recommend for everyone to check out. 

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