Andrea Arnold wrote and directed Fish Tank, which is about a 15-year-old young woman who is struggling to figure out who she is. Set in housing projects in Essex, it’s a gritty naturalistic slice of life as we follow Mia (played remarkably by Katie Jarvis) through her days in the summer as she practices dancing and wanders around the neighbourhood. The plot and characters slowly emerge and there is a verité feel to the film. Beautifully shot and with bold supporting performances by Kierston Wareing as Mia’s mom and Michael Fassbinder as her boyfriend it skirts along an uncomfortable edge in all the relationships. The film lays the groundwork and then lets us watch as the characters deal with circumstances with no clear or logical way out.
We see the different roles that Mia has with herself, her mom, her sister and her classmates from school as we as how she deals with men and her own sexuality and identity. It’s compelling to watch and is a subtle and powerful portrait of a woman who is seeing the world and herself in a new way.