By far the best aspect of this film are the performances, specifically, newcomer at the time, Katie Jarvis who plays Mia, a 15 year old East London girl with no prospects, no friends and a family that seemingly dislikes her. The fact that she was a newcomer at the time definitely helped her be as convincing as she was in the role, at points during the film I forgot that I was watching a film purely because of her performance and that alone is impressive.
However, when you combine that with the other fantastic performance in the film, Michael Fassbender as Mia’s mums mysterious new boyfriend, Connor. Fassbender is not only as fantastic as always but also has fantastic chemistry with Jarvis and makes their relationship seem very genuine and natural.
The name ‘Fish Tank’ comes from the fact that instead of having a typical structured story with a beginning, middle and end, it just focus on a section of Mia’s life, like you’re looking at her life as if she was in a zoo, or a fish tank. This makes the film feel very natural and the directing respects that most of the time, sometimes the camera moves in a style that is odd when compared with the rest of the film but it is soon back to normal and you are sucked back in again.
Now, while the ‘slice of life’ films are inventive and a great way to tell a character’s story without having to worry about plot structure or having a solid resolution, it is also hard to pull off without any issues and unfortunately this film does suffer by having no proper flow throughout the film, it starts off great and it ends well and there is also some great parts sprinkled throughout the film, but there is a good chunk of run time where the film screeches to a halt and becomes stagnant.
As you can imagine, the pacing is greatly affected and it is slowed even more by some seemingly unnecessary scenes and additions to the story which, if cut, would have shortened the run time and would have had no effect on Mia’s story. I also feel that if the film was more tightly edited with the slower parts shortened or removed completely and replaced with other, more Mia prevalent scenes would not only have made the film flow better, it would also emphasise Mia’s story.
There was also a certain scene involving a river that was not only unnecessary but far different tonally than anything else in the film and while I can see that it was added for dramatic effect, it just sticks out as a very forced scene in an otherwise extremely natural film.
The films aspect ratio is 4:3 which I found a very interesting stylistic choice at first, but as the film progressed it made sense why the director would choose that particular aspect ratio and I came to not only appreciate it but also enjoy it.