Weinstein Company, The | Release Date: June 3, 2011
Generally favorable reviews based on 116 Ratings
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ShiiraAug 10, 2011
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. You can't see the submarine in the fish tank that looms in the background of the Tate dining room, but it's there, a submarine transported to the eighties from 1963, straight out of a cornflakes box that a Yorkshire mother bought for her childish adult son. It belonged to Billy Fischer, also known as "Billy Liar", but now it's fifteen-year-old Oliver Tate(Craig Roberts) who must shoulder the burden of navigating the aquatic vessel through the adolescent waters bubbling under at home and school. The secondhand sub comes saddled with the baggage of a less-than-stellar history. Its new owner offers only a slight improvement over the submarine's predecessor. Both pilots, antiheroes to one degree or other, display a tendency to crack under heavy duress, creating an occasion for simulated violence, but whereas Billy imagines gunning down his loved ones in cold blood, Oliver's malevolence is more of the self-inflicted variety. While not an outright fibber like Billy, a would-be scriptwriter for a famous comedian, Oliver, at the very least, is a flagrant hypocrite. Jordana, described by the protagonist as a "moderately unpopular girl", bullies the even-less popular Zoe, who finds herself ostracized from her peers for being fat. Uncharacteristic of the underdog archetype, Oliver participates in the hectoring, because being a lout, he sees, brings him closer to his dream girl. When Zoe falls into the pond, it's as if she was assassinated, since the girl is no stranger to Oliver. She once played a prominent role in his short life, being on the receiving end of his first kiss, which puts her "murder" on par with the known people that Billy opens fire on with a hail of imaginary bullets, discharged from a gun manifested as rage. Oliver, an unaware dissembler, loans out "The Catcher in the Rye" for Jordana to read, even though he has become the sort of phony that Holden Caulfield rails against in the Salinger novel. Clearly, Oliver still sees himself as a victim, a hero of the underclass. On their first date, he takes Jordana to a matinee showing of "The Passion of Joan of Arc"(like Alvy taking Annie Hall to "The Sorrow and the Pity"), the 1928 silent classic about the purported French heretic who was burned at the stake by English decree. But what side is he on? Good or evil? In the Schlesinger film, the kingdom which Billy rules in his head, Ambrosia, etymologically speaking, is of Greek/Roman origin, suggesting the possibility that he models himself after Mussolini(the Italian dictator who killed innocent people for real), and not some benign prime minister. Like Billy, the young Scot, as aforementioned, leads a rich fantasy life, imagining his own celebrated demise, casting himself as a martyr of Wales, the Butler of Swansea, akin to Joan. In one scene, Jordana, a budding pyromaniac, burns the skin on Oliver's leg, but the boy lacks the fealty of a saint, as evidenced by his willingness to make a sacrifice out of Zoe for personal gain. It's Oliver who does the "burning", even Jordana, when in her time of need, he stays away from the hospital, where the girl's mother may be dying of cancer. Both Billy and Oliver use family obligations as an excuse for disappointing their women. In "Billy Liar", the titular character gets off the train to London, he thinks, to console his parents, grieving over the death of the family matriarch, but the truth of the matter is that the borderline sociopath(the grandma is one of his imagined victims) would rather live in Ambrosia's dreamscapes than the real world with Liz. Oliver, possessing some of the same issues as Billy, relies on the perceived eventuality of a parental divorce as the basis for his no-show, putting dad's depression before Jordana's crisis, when in reality it's cowardice, the pressure of living in a submarine, perhaps the very same one that Billy needs for his Ambrosian navy, which keeps the potentially homicidal boy(he had plans on poisoning her dog) away. But when it comes to growing up, the girls have it harder. In a fish tank, it's not the submarine you notice; it's the fish. At the outset of Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank", Mia, a 15-year-old everyteen trying to survive in the Essex Council Estate, may or may not be subjected to the male gaze of her mother's new beau. Passed out in their bed, Connor carries Mia to the room she shares with her younger sister, and for good measure, strips the girl down to her underwear. This act, vague in its intent, turns out to be replete with sexual intentions, after all, when Connor seduces the child on a living room couch, later on. The filmmaker not only indicts the statutory rapist as amoral, but the moviegoer, too. In the opening scene, we meet Mia, an aspiring dancer, performing in a room where the window is shaped like a fish tank. How are we looking at her: as a dancer or as a sex object? When she auditions as a stripper at a club, the answer becomes obvious. Expand
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