MIFF 2009 Day 06: FISH TANK (UK) and RED RIDING 1980 (UK)

FISH TANK, 2009, UK, is simply a brilliant film that proves that confronting stories can be told with compassion and heart even when all things seem lost. Andrea Arnold, the director has perfect timing and poise to move this story in positive way even when life is throwing you crappy cards. The script has been crafted with every scene moving the story and characters forward, no scene is wasted in this film.

The performance by Katie Jarvis as Mia, the hapless 15 year old on a collision course with disaster, delivers one of strongest performance by young actress since Ellen Page in Hard Candy. Mia lives an unhappy life with her single mother and younger sister, with conflict at every corner with the other teenager girls and at home. Mia’s angry outlook in life is contrasted by her compassion towards animals and her love of hip hop dancing.

Mia life gets turned upside down when her mother brings home a new boyfriend, Conner (Michael Fassbender), the attraction between the two of them spirals them into the inevitable sexual counter that cause a ripple effect on everyone’s lives. Arnold handles the sexual tense between the man and the teenager without moral judgement.

English filmmakers seemed to capture the troublesome lives of the housing commission estate residents in such realistic and powerful portrayals, but this film stands head and shoulders above previous. Fish Tank is confronting, compelling, memorable and finds a realistic story that speaks volumes to the audience. This is no Billy Elliot or Full Monty, this is real life with no winners or losers just people surviving their environment.

RED RIDING 1980, 2009, UK, kicked off my screenings for this day with two English films in the one day. Today was supposed to be a subtitle free day but again the print for another film in the Red Riding series has subtitles. I appreciate that this an international film festival, but I think most audience members don’t need them here in Melbourne.

Sorry for bursting with a rant for film that has further enhanced my belief that these trilogy films belong in the program. The second installment is set again in Yorkshire were the Yorkshire Ripper is being hunted by the police as the death toll is already reached 13 victims. Peter Hunter (Paddy Considine) is brought in from neighboring police force to help with the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.

Hunter has a history with the Yorkshire police when he conduct the investigation into the aftermath of events that occurred in Red Riding 1974. Hunter is again stonewall with police corruption and his own demons that threat to destroy his reputation and career.

James Marsh, the director delivers a compelling tale and ties the series together beautifully, but also allows each story to exist independently. Paddy Considine continues to deliver amazing performance that must soon or later get him some decent offers or awards.