In May of 2016, Andrea Arnold’s fourth feature film American Honey won the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize (pretty much the celebration’s third place). However, this wasn’t the first time she had a film entered at Cannes. It wasn’t even her first time winning the Jury Prize there. Arnold’s second feature, Fish Tank, earned this distinction as well back in 2009. Because I liked American Honey so much (#11 of 2016), I figured I might as well check out Fish Tank since it was streaming on Netflix.
Fish Tank is the story of Mia, a reckless fifteen-year-old living in a downtrodden neighborhood outside London with her borderline wicked single mother. Mia aspires to be a dancer one day but really seems to take more pleasure into fucking shit up for now. There’s not a ton of plot for most of this film, just a lot of meandering about town, but it does have some really touching moments in the second half. Michael Fassbender, before he became big swinging dick Michael Fassbender, is great in a supporting role. I have to assume Quentin Tarantino saw this film before making him one of the breakout stars of Inglorious Basterds the next year.
Fish Tank has much more in common with American Honey than just Cannes accomplishments. They are both coming of age films. They both star a young woman with zero prior acting experience (Fish Tank’s Katie Jarvis was discovered while having a fight with her boyfriend out in public). Lastly, they both feature astounding, hip-hop leaning soundtracks (Nas, Eric B & Rakim, Gang Star, and Bobby Womack are playing throughout the film on various radios and TV’s). Grade: B-