I really loved it. That much I know. I'm just trying to figure out why that is. I do know it was beautifully shot. The different lighting choices and camera angles I thought were amazing. From the scene where Connor takes Mia to her room and she watches him through the space her arm creates with her body to the scene where she shows him the dance. Could the lighting be any better? The bright light from the street illuminating such a tension filled scene. I could probably talk about this forever, but I won't. Can you tell I thought I was going to be a director of major motion pictures when I was wee little girl? Broken dreams!
I guess I loved it so much because I felt emotionally connected with Mia. I had a bit of Mia streak as a teen. I was quite smart and thought I knew more than pretty much any adult, giving me a definite case of over sarcasm. I've never liked authority figures and though I didn't grow up in the slums, I do occasionally have a tumultuous relationship with my own Mother, who thankfully, is not a bleach blonde boozehound like Mia's, but still. I understand the feeling of living in a fish tank, longing to get out, or having a pseudo relationship with an older dude that borders on inappropriate. I've lived it. I was a middle class, American version of Mia, minus the whole dropping out of school and moving away part. Also, I didn't say c*nt quite as often, but maybe that's a British thing? Little things!
So, let's talk about the characters. I can't really do a like and dislike, because I'm still not sure who I liked and didn't, which is a great thing to say about the movie. They were all obviously flawed, but still so damn likeable at points. I did love the little sister, because even though she had a trucker's mouth, she was given the best laugh out loud moments. Is there anything better than hearing a 12 year old (guessing at the age) say, "If I'm a f*ckface, then you're a c*ntface"? No, there is not. It was hilariously inappropriate.
I love the ALMOST factor this movie has going. Did you think she was almost in more trouble when the two guys had grabbed her when she was trying to free the horse? I did. Did you think she was almost going to become a stripper? I did. Did you think that little girl was almost a goner when she is thrown into the water? I did. And did you think Mia was almost a goner when Connor chases her through the field? Yep, I did. I think it did a great job of almost playing on a cliche, but then coming back to what would likely happen in real life. One exception being the couch scene between Mia and Connor, but that will be discussed in a moment. I wouldn't call that cliche, but it certainly wasn't an almost moment.
So, let's talk about the dude. That scene when Connor first talks to Mia in the kitchen was memorable. First thing I thought was, 'Damn, that guy is smoking hot and his jeans are about to drop.' I'm not the only one who noticed this, as evidenced by this little pic I found searching for Fish Tank images on google(and no, I did not add the words on this one...sadly):
Second thing I thought was, 'Oh, dear.' Part of the reason I love this movie is that you never really know how to feel about Connor. Is he there to act as a pseudo father figure? Is he more sinister? Even after the scene where things go a bit too far (understatement), his reaction is confusing, though the audience may be leaning a bit more towards sinister.
I love the little details that build up to that scene where she does her dance for him. I love the deicision to make all of the moments they have seem intense, from blurred camera shots when he asks how his cologne smells to subtle shots of her hand on his shoulder or accentuated sounds of breath and slower tempo when he gives her a piggy back ride. Since we see the entire movie through her eyes, these moments are magnified the was they would be if it were real life and a 15 year old girl had a crush on an attractive older dude.
Back to the dance scene. When she comes downstairs and the lighting is amazing as I said, the moment she begins talking I think I quit breathing until the culmination of inappropriateness. I mean, that has to be one of the most tension filled scenes I have EVER seen. It was building and you kinda knew, oh damn, I'm not going to like Connor after this. The creepy camera shot of his hand patting the couch for her to move closer was a punch in the gut, but in a well made movie way, of course.
The last 20 minutes weren't my cup of tea(had to say tea, this is a British film, duh). I mean I get that she was a scorned and tempramental 15 year old, but I don't know. It all seemed a bit bizarro, which may have been the point. Who am I to say? I think from the moment she urinates on living room floor (if you haven't seen this flick, you totally want to now, right?) to throwing that girl in the water was another movie in itself. You kinda always knew that the dude had another lady when Mia asks about the tattoo on his arm and how quickly he responded, but I certainly don't think I expected a middle class life with a family. I think that part of the film is lost in the chaos of the last bit.
So, what did you think? Does Mia have a chance at a better life? She's a 15 year old dropout moving away from her boozey mom, but maybe that is the best for her. I'm interested to know what Mia is like at 25.
And what about Connor? Was he a pediophile or an opportunist? If you think he was an opportunist, would you be less convinced had he been dull and less attractive? I want to say he was an opportunist, but I think my judgement is being clouded by the image of him in his jeans in the kitchen. Gosh, he's hot. Also, this is just a sidenote, but did he know her dance try out was at a strip club? I'm still questioning that.
I love a movie that makes me think one thing one day and another the next. I certainly will have this on my mind for a long time. Great flick.
One sentence review: A bleak, but beautifully shot film that explores the turbulent life of fifteen year old girl, that really shines due to the strength of the acting and believable script.
Good luck getting this song out of your head after viewing this movie: