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Fifteen-year-old Mia is in a constant state of war with her family, her school and her neighbors, without any constructive creative outlet for her energies save a secret love of hip-hop dancing. When she meets her party- girl mother's charming new boyfriend Connor, she is amazed to find him returning her attention, and believes he can help her start to make sense of her life - though his seemingly tender demeanor may hide a much more treacherous interior.
For more about Fish Tank and the Fish Tank Blu-ray release, see Fish Tank Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 2, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Griffiths, Katie Jarvis, Sydney Mary Nash, Harry Treadaway, Kierston Wareing
Director: Andrea Arnold
» See full cast & crew
Fish Tank Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 2, 2010
Winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, BAFTA Film Award for Outstanding British Film, and Best Director and Most Promising Newcomer awards at the British Independent Film Awards, Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank" (2009) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. The supplemental features on the disc include Andrea Arnold's Oscar-winning short film "Wasp", gallery of stills, and theatrical trailer. Not subtitled in English. Region-Free.
Andrea Arnold-s latest film, Fish Tank, is about a fifteen-year-old girl, Mia (Katie Jarvis), who lives in a tough, poverty-ridden Essex estate. She does not have any friends and thinks that her luck is terrible. She is hurt and most of the time angry.
Mia lives in a cheap flat with her little sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths), and mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing, It's a Free World...), who also looks angry - at least when she isn't drunk. They don't talk to each other. When they must communicate, they scream. Most of their neighbors do the same. Mia, Tyler and Joanne have a dog that does not seem to mind.
Mia spends most of her time on the streets. She fights, drinks and often dreams about being a dancer. Like most girls her age, she likes hip-hop, the American kind. Mia hopes that one day she could win an important dance contest - and then move away from Essex.
Out of the blue, Mia's mother comes home with Connor (Michael Fassbender, Hunger), an athletic, soft-spoken guy with a day job, who likes having fun. At first, Mia does not care about him, but after he takes her on a short trip to a nearby river together with her mother and sister, she warms up to him. He moves in to live with Joanne, and a couple of nights later Mia has sex with him.
Mia thinks that it is love. Connor is convinced that it was a mistake. He attempts to explain to her that a fifteen-year-old girl cannot be in love with a man his age, but she does not understand why. "What does it matter if you like someone", Mia asks.
It matters to Connor and he goes back to his old place. Joanne is devastated and so is Mia. She goes after Connor and breaks into his house - only to discover that he has a wife and daughter. Now hurting even more than before, Mia decides to teach Connor a lesson he would never forget.
The title of Arnold's latest film, Fish Tank, could not have been any more appropriate for the type of story it tells. Mia lives in a part of Essex which she hates but cannot escape - a giant fish tank of sorts where she is a small fish, swimming in circles. The people around Mia also live in their own fish tanks. Like her, they are hurt and angry, unable to escape poverty and all the drama that typically follows it.
Despite its gloomy and genuinely unsettling tone, however, Fish Tank is not a film on a mission to educate its viewers about Essex and those who live there. There are no powerful social statements in it. There are certainly no serious political accusations flying around either.
Rather, Fish Tank is about real people reacting to real issues. People who make mistakes and do things you, I and everyone else around us would do if we were to be placed in the same fish tank they share, with limited resources and no way of getting out of it.
The film ends abruptly, without providing some sort of a logical closure to its story. Mia makes an important decision and then does what she should have probably done a long time ago. Again, she is hurt, but this time she is hopeful. Perhaps things would change. Perhaps they won't. It is time that she finds out.
Newcomer Katie Jarvis, who plays Mia, is outstanding. Her acting is raw and unpretentious, simply perfect for Fish Tank. Michael Fassbender is also incredibly convincing as the handsome friend-lover, who breaks two hearts at once.
In 2009, Fish Tank won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. During the same year, it also won the Best Director and Most Promising Newcomer (Katie Jarvis) awards at the British Independent Film Awards. Earlier this year, Fish Tank also won a BAFTA Film Award for Outstanding British Film.
Fish Tank Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
This is yet another wonderful release by Artificial Eye! Fine object detail is very strong, clarity superb and contrast levels notably better than those seen on the SDVD release of the film. Furthermore, neither edge-enhancement nor macroblocking are an issue of concern with the high-definition transfer; they are both, however, very easy to spot on the SDVD release. The digital noise from the nighttime footage is also nowhere to be seen. Generally speaking, the color-scheme is also a lot healthier. Blues, greens, browns, grays and blacks look richer and better saturated than those seen on the SDVD release of Fish Tank. Finally, when blown through a digital projector the image remains stable. I also did not detect any disturbing scratches, cuts, marks, or stains to report in this review. (Note: Even though the back cover indicates that Fish Tank is a Region-B "locked" release, it is in fact Region-Free. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no "forced" PAL or 1080/50i content preceding its main menu).
Fish Tank Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Artificial Eye have not provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
I cannot say that there is a sizable gap in quality between the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and the English LPCM 2.0 track. Fish Tank is very much a dialog-driven feature with unique organic qualities, which the two loseless audio tracks recreate flawlessly. There are a couple of scenes that sound slightly better with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track - the party scene early into the film; the scene where Mia and Connor's daughter fight at the beach; etc. - but overall the two have very similar dynamic characteristics.
The dialog is crisp and clean, but there were more than a few scenes where I had trouble understanding exactly what was said (I thought that some of the accents were quite thick).
Fish Tank Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: Some of the supplemental features on this Blu-ray disc are encoded in PAL. Therefore, if you reside in North America, or another territory where PAL is not supported, you either must have a player capable of converting PAL to NTSC, or a native Region-B player and a TV set capable of displaying PAL content.
Gallery - photographs taken by Holly Horner during the filming of Fish Tank. Holly Horner has worked as the photographer on Andrea Arnold's two previous films, Wasp and Red Road. (1080p).
Trailer - the original theatrical trailer for the film. (3 min, 1080p).
Wasp - director Andrea Arnold's Oscar-winning short film about a single mother living in Dartford, which she shot in 2003. In English, not subtitled. (PAL, 25 min).
Trailer - the original theatrical trailer for director Andrea Arnold's Red Road. (PAL, 2 min).
Artificial Eye trailers - trailers for other Artificial Eye releases - Chungking Express (1080p), Ashes of Time Redux (PAL), Hidden (PAL), Lou Reed's Berlin (PAL), Waltz with Bashir (1080p), Katyn (PAL), Zidane: A 21'st Century Portrait (PAL), The White Ribbon (1080p).
Fish Tank Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I think it is perfectly clear now that Andrea Arnold is a force to be reckoned with. Her Fish Tank surely places her right next to Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. Bravo! The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye, looks and sounds fantastic. It is also Region-Free. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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