Director Andrea Arnold made a fine feature filmmaking debut with 2006’s Red Road, and made her best film (so far) a couple of years ago with a gritty adaptation of Wuthering Heights. But in between those two movies, Arnold landed on a lot of cinephiles’ radars with 2009’s Fish Tank, a domestic drama starring Katie Jarvis as Mia, a working-class teen living with a mean mom and her mom’s boyfriend Connor (played by impossibly handsome Michael Fassbender). Sometime Mia looks like a beautiful young woman; and sometimes she looks like a little kid, only able to express affection through roughhousing and insults. Mia sees Connor as a mentor, a dad, and a sex-object, and Fish Tank is refreshingly frank about how a girl becomes aware of her own sexual power. But it’s also openly critical about the curse of materialism, as Mia’s TV is tuned to programs about the obscenely rich. Fish Tank relies too much on plot twists and heavy-handed symbolism, but it’s unusually sensitive to the ways young people learn how to be adults—and how awkwardly they apply those lessons. The movie airs on Showtime Next at 11 p.m. Eastern.
November 11, 2014 newsreel