Fish Tank 2009 ★★★★½

Were you disturbed by An Education? Then wait til you see Fish Tank! Fassbender is a marvel. Aside from being the embodiment of sex, he really is an excellent actor. When I watch a promising movie, I feel this low-level dread throughout. It comes from knowing what could happen to derail it horribly and being unable to breathe easily until it does/does not happen. Fortunately, Fish Tank was mostly excellent, and faltered only in its occasional use of heavy metaphor. But I still held my breath through pretty much the whole thing. I thought this film did an excellent job of showing the complications of attraction/sexuality. It is so clear that the main character, Mia, needs/is looking for a father figure, but she is also testing out her ability to attract. The fact that she tries to navigate this while being confronted with problematic depictions of female sexuality everywhere she looks, and largely rejecting them, is really interesting. I also liked that Mia was not a pro (or even a good) dancer. We are so used to seeing stories of youngsters saved from the ghetto by their amazing god-given talent. The fact that she doesn’t have that talent makes it even more heartbreaking.

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