Andrea Arnold followed her superb debut feature Red Road with this similarly brilliant slice of social realism. Mia is a disaffected teen on an Essex council estate, whose only release is her love for breakdancing. Some light enters her life in the form of Conor, her mother’s charming new boyfriend, but her attraction to him sets her on a dangerous collision.
Director Arnold famously discovered lead actress Katie Jarvis after overhearing her loudly arguing at a train station. Jarvis’ engrossing performance is backed by a subtle and ambiguous turn from Michael Fassbender, in one of his earliest screen roles.
Shot in a claustrophobic 4:3 aspect ratio, Fish Tank is an incisive and unforgettable drama about longing for escape, positing Mia as an ‘angry young woman’ to rival the Angry Young Men of an earlier era of British social realism.