User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 44 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 44
  2. Negative: 3 out of 44

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  1. Dec 14, 2012
    8
    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.
  2. Nov 4, 2010
    9
    A very good, gritty, realistic drama, some great acting on show here from the main star (Katie Jarvis), a vivid insight into the lives of young people living in certain areas of Britain today.
  3. Feb 20, 2011
    8
    Lyrical social drama - Andrea Arnold's second feature is a throbbing and turbulent contemporary drama from one of Britain's less appealing suburbs that tells the story about 15 year old Mia, a vital and somewhat bewildered girl living on a council estate in Essex, England with her mother and little sister Tyler, which she argues more than talks to. Mias rebellious personality has made her more or less friendless and the only thing that gives her confidence is her passion for dancing, but the day her mother introduces her daughters for her new boyfriend Connor life opens new doors for Mia. Andrea Arnold returns after her uncompromising debut "Red Road" (2006) and shows her talent for social realistic storytelling. With consistent hand-held camera movements and intimately focus on the main character Arnold creates an accomplished character study that feels like it takes place in real time. The most obvious change from Arnold's film style in "Red Road" is the use of color. Othervise the witted dialog, the long takes, the variations in pace, the frequent use of close-ups, the authentic depictions of milieu, the versatile perspectives and Andrea Arnold's characteristic fascination for town blocks are still present. Arnold is clearly inspired by Ken Loach and her story about the alienated teenage girl that discovers her sexuality while she's looking for foothold in a cynical world is reminiscent of films such as Lynne Ramsay's "Ratcatcher" (1999), Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's "Rosetta" (1999), Catherine Hardwike's "Thirteen" (2003) and Cate Shortland's "Somersault" (2004).

    "Fish Tank" is social realism in it's purest form and a powerful coming-of-age tale about a fierce stubborn girl that persistently keeps alive her dream of becoming a professional dancer despite the fact the her reality makes her dream look like an illusion. Andrea Arnolds heroine is emotionally distant, covers her feelings behind a rouge image and articulates in a disrespectful and hostile way. The pitiless reality she lives in has hardened her and placed at dark cloud over her prospects. Debutant Katie Jarvis gives everything she's got in the role as Mia, goes the distance and creates a multifaceted character portrayal that's full of attitude. Many of the films finest, most honest and most intense moments manifests in the scenes between Jarvis and Michael Fassbender "The Hunger" (2008). "Fish Tank" is a gritty depiction of society that explores strong topics, but in-between all this gravity Arnold turns the camera towards natures gracefulness and gives the viewer a little breathing space from the concentrated realism that makes the few rays of hope seem like utopia. This is a lyrical film about breaking free from ones own limitations and find ones own identity.
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  4. Apr 9, 2011
    8
    This great British film, winner of the Cannes Jury Prize, combines the likes of "Precious" and "An Education" to give us one of the grittiest and most candid looks at a teen's life since "The Basketball Diaries". Director Andrea Arnold (who brought us the indie hit "Red Road") presents a world that is so honest and real, one we normally don't see on the screen. The film's candor, however, ultimately comes from the refreshingly flawless performances by Michael Fassbender and newcomer Katie Jarvis. Well shot and well performed, "Fish Tank" has become a staple in recent British cinema. Expand
  5. May 17, 2011
    10
    The British film Fish Tank is a rare movie-going experience, in that we the viewer move from simple voyeurs to the feeling that we are participating in the story to, finally, the feeling that we are the main character, somehow trapped in the same existence and the same feelings of hopelessness and despair that permeate her life. The her I refer to is Mia (Katie Jarvis), a 15 year old teen living a pretty lousy life in Essex with her little sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) and her single, party-going mother (Kierston Wareing). The three of them co-exist in a flat that is always dirty and they speak to each other with no hint that they are a family â Expand
  6. Nov 22, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. There is a three reasons that this film apparently works. 1) It is completely unexpected, such as Mia bumping uglies with Connor, little Tyler literally swearing and giving herself health problems when we see her and her friend smoking and drinking, or when Connor's little daughter falling into the river and or ten seconds, all that Mia can do is look in horror how she'll survive the icy water. 2) Katie Jarvis. That **** can definitely act for sure, it almost looks like that Mia isn't a character, but rather Katie Jarvis' persona. 3) Michael Fassbender. Around this period of his life, he really was blossoming into his acting, after proving he is very good in Hunger, that it's scary. Plus, he is so good-looking and sexual, that he sizzles to Mia to the point where he has sex with her. Plus, with this particular scene, it proves that Michael Fassbender will do anything to get particularly noticed by the big awards, like Oscars, Golden Globes, etc, even if it means that he has to have sex with a girl half his age (Fish Tank), show off his genitalia and anus (Hunger), get a silly mustache (A Dangerous Method), or even have sex with a hundred girls and his character's sister (Shame), or so I've heard. Expand
  7. Sep 27, 2013
    8
    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.
  8. Aug 3, 2013
    10
    I love this movie. Watching these slummy British people living their lives is so real it's devastating. It's also bitingly funny, naturally tender, and sometimes exhilarating.
  9. Feb 24, 2013
    8
    I stumbled across Fish Tank simply because Michael Fassbender is in it; I had never really heard much about it because it's a low-budget British indie film. I'm glad I came across it because it's a really good little film. Extremely realistic portrayal of a troubled family, great characters, perfect pace, and excellent performances from Fassbender and Jarvis. I completely recommend this film!
  10. Jul 5, 2013
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This is a beautiful realistic film of the life of a 15 year olf girl living in a council estate area of Essex. Mia has no guiding figure in her life and she is basically left alone to do as she pleases. Having been kicked out of school and obviously just come to blows with her best and, most likely, only friend, she is easily intrigued by her mother's charming new boyfriend Conner, even more so as he appears to acknowledge her presence in ways that she is not accustomed to ways that do not include put-me-downs and insults. He is tenderly caring with all the woman in Mia's family and appears to be an excellent, much needed father figure to Mia, trying to talk to her, being the first person to notice she has a passion for dancing, and also encourages her by telling her she is good at it, he lifts her spirits and gives her hope. Katie Jarvis is excellent in the role of Mia, giving a very realistic performance of a young teen who feels like an outcast, always on guard, aggressive and yet confused when feeling emotions she is not familiar with. Michael Fassbender is brilliant as Conner, the charming, supportive boyfriend of Mia's mother, a man who appears to genuinely care for Mia. As the film progresses, so do the circumstances the lines between who was right and who was wrong are blurred, the initial intentions of some peoples actions are unclear. Mia is just a kid, but is forced into a grown-ups world and has rotten examples surrounding her. Maybe if she were to escape this fish tank, she could have a chance just maybe...if only the pace of the film was not so slow, the rating would have been higher, but overall a solid piece of realism. Expand
  11. Jan 18, 2014
    0
    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!!! Expand
Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. Reviewed by: Philip Wilding
    80
    A vivid portrayal of life at society's margins with a compelling turn from newcomer Jarvis. Little wonder it scored at Cannes.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.