Fish Tank

Critics Consensus

Cannes Jury Prize-winner Fish Tank is gritty British realism at its very best, with flawless performances from newcomer Kate Jarvis, and Michael Fassbender.



Total Count: 147


Audience Score

User Ratings: 14,095
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Movie Info

Fifteen-year-old Mia's world is turned upside down when her mother brings home a new boyfriend.


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Critic Reviews for Fish Tank

All Critics (147) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (134) | Rotten (13)

  • Fish Tank may begin as a patch of lower-class chaos, but it turns into a commanding, emotionally satisfying movie, comparable to such youth-in-trouble classics as The 400 Blows.

    Jul 7, 2010 | Full Review…

    David Denby

    New Yorker
    Top Critic
  • A bold new entry in the long-standing British tradition of disquieting social realism.

    Jul 4, 2010 | Rating: 9.7/10 | Full Review…

    Ian Buckwalter

    Top Critic
  • One of the best British films of recent years, Fish Tank marks a leap forward from Arnold's first feature, the contrived Red Road.

    May 28, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Writer-director Andrea Arnold, working in British lower-class realism, still finds wondrous moments of connection in Mia's life.

    Mar 5, 2010 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Writer-director Andrea Arnold has created something so real and raw, you may come away with a twinge of guilty voyeurism, a sense of peering too closely and impolitely into other people's lives.

    Mar 5, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Katie Jarvis has a natural presence that matches the unsentimental minimalism of the film.

    Mar 4, 2010 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for Fish Tank

  • Dec 17, 2015
    It has been a while since I've reviewed an independent British film, and I'm kinda disappointed in myself for that because, to me, there's a lot of really fucking talented people in that scene. From Sally El Hosaini, Steve McQueen, Shane Meadows, Andrea Arnold, among many others, it's clear that Britain, at least as far as I'm concerned, has some incredible independent filmmakers. This film serves as proof of that, at least in Andrea Arnold's case. I've only see two of her films, Red Road and this one, and it's clear that she knows how to put together a movie with compelling characters with complex motivations and ideas. The film, much like Red Road, retains the realistic acting and believable situations. Though, to be fair, I can see this as the kind of movie that a lot of people simply won't be patient enough to sit through, due to the misguided belief that nothing is really happening. I think the movie gives off that appearance, but I think there's a lot going on in the film that's so subtle and understated, how things usually are in real life, as opposed to giving you a more heavily dramatized and unrealistic portrayal of Mia's troublesome life. I'm not saying it reflects the real situation a lot of teen girls from low-income families go through, but it's closer to the real thing that most other films. The film sees Mia's world turned topsy-turvy after meeting her mother's, a charming and charismatic man named Connor, played by the always excellent Michael Fassbender. The thing about Connor is that while he brings about positive changes in Mia's life, from her mother treating her better, to Connor boosting her self-esteem, to her house actually being tidied for once, it's obvious that there's something off about Connor. Not that he's a murderer or anything, since that would be out of place, but you can tell that not all it seems and you can never quite put your finger on what his intentions actually are with Mia's mother or even Mia herself. It does add a little bit of intrigue to the film and it's rewarding to see where it's heading, even if you are able to figure out what Connor's secret is fairly on, as I did. The film benefits from a committed performance from Katie Jarvis, who, I believe, had never acted before this film and, obviously Michael Fassbender. Their chemistry is believable and there's clearly something there between the two and how the film plays with that is one of the more intriguing things about it. The film, as it should be expected, is realistically shot. It's got a bit of grit about it that definitely adds to the film, its structure and its tone. I thought the film's third act definitely went to some interestingly unexpected places and, thankfully, the film doesn't really give in to what others would look at as an easily exploitable situation, at least as it relates to drama. The film maintains its focus. So, yes, I thought this film was excellent. If you're into more casual films, then this movie simply won't be for you. But its believable story, complex characters and excellent acting make this film worthy of recommendation.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Sep 27, 2015
    Loses its footing a few times but not enough to derail it.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 02, 2013
    Awesome flick. Jarvis and Fassbender are great here, but Andrea Arnold is the shining star in this universe.
    ZACHO D Super Reviewer
  • Jan 07, 2013
    Look for this slight British coming-of-age bit that packs a wallop (reminiscent of the kitchen sink productions of the late 50's/early 60's for gritty realism)and don't let it go by as all the actors but especially the newbie director/writer Andrea Arnold delivers the goods in this story about the desire to belong for a young 15 year old wannabe dancer.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer

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