Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. 100
    Arnold deserves comparison with a British master director like Ken Loach.
  2. 100
    The only person who seems to understand the angry teen is mom's new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender of Hunger), though their friendship oscillates between intimate and vaguely creepy.
  3. The amazingly natural first-timer was discovered, in a gift of publicity-ready truth, while having an argument with her boyfriend at a train station.
  4. Reviewed by: Ian Buckwalter
    Andrea Arnold has crafted a scene that approaches a literal embodiment of the term "kitchen-sink drama" here is most likely coincidence; nevertheless, her film is a bold new entry in that long-standing British tradition of disquieting social realism.
  5. Arnold's first feature, "Red Road" (2006), centers on another outsider, a woman who monitors security cameras. The film is formally brilliant, but it doesn't have the breathtaking openness of Fish Tank.
  6. The 17-year-old so completely captures the innocence, cynicism and rage of a child of poverty and divorce on the edge of adulthood that it feels as if you are spying on Mia, so achingly real, so tangible does her world seem here.
  7. 90
    The contradictions of adolescence have rarely been conveyed with such authenticity and force.
  8. Reviewed by: Leslie Felperin
    What makes the picture feel special is its unflinching honesty and lack of sentimentality or moralizing, along with assured direction and excellent performances.
  9. It's been a good while since I've seen a movie whose most powerful sequence was both unforeseen and entirely unpredictable as it played out.
  10. Fish Tank isn't an easy watch – it's like two hours of ache – but there are rich rewards to be had in the many ways Arnold and her terrific team rend us to and fro.
  11. 88
    While you're remembering new high-impact names, add Arnold. In only her second film, after 2006's "Red Road," she keeps the screen filled to bursting with the beauty and raw terror of life.
  12. A remarkable downer-upper paradox: a bruising tale of teenage resilience, honest and emotionally complicated and alive.
  13. It's oppressive and claustrophobic, confused and scary in there. But it's also compellingly real.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A brilliantly acted and achingly bleak coming-of-age story.
  15. 88
    In many ways Fish Tank joins "An Education" and "Precious" as an acute, empathic portrait of a girl growing up, but more than those films Arnold leaves viewers with a feeling of unsettled ambiguity.
  16. 88
    It's not comfortable but it is engrossing.
  17. The film belongs to Jarvis, however, and she makes the most of it with expressive features that convey Mia's mixed-up emotions from raging temper to sweet vulnerability. She will go far.
  18. Arnold generally steers clear of cinematic melodrama, and Jarvis infuses the entire film with the sort of kinetic spirit that heralds a new talent.
  19. Reviewed by: Philip Wilding
    A vivid portrayal of life at society's margins with a compelling turn from newcomer Jarvis. Little wonder it scored at Cannes.
  20. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Fish Tank manages to be about exploitation without being exploitative. For my money--and without opening up the "Precious" debate again--it's by far the better movie.
  21. 80
    Fish tank may begin as a patch of lower-class chaos, but it turns into a commanding, emotionally satisfying movie, comparable to such youth-in-trouble classics as "The 400 Blows." [18 Jan. 2010, p. 83]
  22. 75
    Fish Tank is grim, to be sure, but it leaves us with a feeling of hopefulness.
  23. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Fish Tank should be seen for what it does well and for what it hints may come, if Andrea Arnold and her audiences are lucky.
  24. A half-century ago, "kitchen sink realism" began its harsh existence on the British stage and then migrated to the screen where, over the years, the genre has taken up permanent residence, maturing into a gritty art...Now add Andrea Arnold to the directors' list and Fish Tank to the kitchen. It's classic low-rent realism – you can almost smell the grease on the unwashed dishes.
  25. Fortunately, Fish Tank feeds us more than crumbs and leaves us feeling like we've come up for air.
  26. 67
    Like "Red Road" it's slow-moving and sometimes grueling, but it's more of a chronicle than narrative, a series of slices-of-life rather than an unfolding and increasingly engrossing enigma.
  27. 67
    In that way, Jarvis is a lot like Arnold: an artist who knows the steps, but doesn't yet have all the moves.
  28. Even as it stands, Fish Tank is a valuable movie, though it aspires to a social insight it doesn't attain and a psychological penetration it won't maintain.
  29. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Jarvis gives a ferociously persuasive performance in an otherwise routine tale of domestic disaster.
  30. A grimy kitchen-sink melodrama with an Ajax cleanser script: The muck is all surface, the turmoil cleanly shallow and contrived, though never less than gripping.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 49 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 1 out of 11
  1. Dec 14, 2012
    A fine piece of British realism, Fish Tank offers more passiveness than attitude (the semi-opposite of it's moody lead) and that's what makes it such an enthralling movie. With a star turn performance by Katie Jarvis it's bound to leave you emotionally resonated -- but to whom and what is the what makes this film special. Full Review »
  2. Jan 18, 2014
    two girls, that haven't any clue what they're doing. One, a mother, the other, a daughter, and a guy that's a rapist, who also has no clue what he's doing... Are undelightfully brought together by a writer, that also doesn't know what he's doing. Exciting plot elements like rape, and child abuse, are about to ensue in this otherwise plot-less movie. If you didn't want to see anything of substance, you've made a good choice having this movie in your queue! Enjoy!!! Full Review »
  3. Sep 27, 2013
    Both entertaining, touching, deep, truthful etc. I've known people from all corners of society and can say that this was a realistic account (also of the clashes), and that I walked away a little bit more enlightened about the structures, and reminded that the mechanisms are important to keep in mind. Full Review »