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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 October 2009

Film review

Fish Tank directed by Andrea Arnold

Reviewed by Sarah Sachs-Eldridge

In the opening pages of My Life Leon Trotsky denounces the saccharine image of childhood that features in much fiction, saying that, in reality, it's not so easy for most people. This film presents some of that reality, although in a somewhat symbolic and also in a one-sided way.

Fish Tank, as the title suggests, allows us to watch excerpts from the life of Mia, a young working-class woman, living in Dagenham, east London. Filmed in a gritty documentary style in the main, there are beautiful dreamlike moments, where the pace of the camera work slows right down and you are reminded that this is illustration, not sociology.

The film depicts some of the frustration of life for working-class young people. Mia loves to dance. In fact, throughout the film more expression comes through her dancing than the actual words she speaks. But the only outlet on offer for her talent is a sleazy club. She has no hope that social services has any understanding of the aspirations she harbours, or means to help her fulfil them.

In many ways Fish Tank is a cinematic breath of fresh air, a film that doesn't rely on millionaire actors, inches deep in make up and liposuctioned within an inch of their life. Katie Jarvis who plays Mia was spotted on a station platform. The background is not the usual stuff we are accustomed to either - tower blocks, traveller encampments, wasteland and industrial estates form the background.

But we live in a society where the media-promoted image of working-class people is often of violence and drunkenness and this film does not completely dispel that. Every film is not required to portray 'happy families' but it is frustrating that an attempt to represent working-class people rejects any reference to struggle, to trade unionism, to working-class solidarity.

Will we see more attempts to show how the majority live? Are opportunities for working-class people to participate in producing art diminishing in the recession?

Much more could be said about this film - and it is definitely worth watching.

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In The Socialist 7 October 2009:

Needed a party for workers, not bosses


War and occupation

Afghanistan stop the war

Afghanistan - Bring the troops home now


Youth fight for jobs

Youth Fight for Jobs

University accommodation scandal: Students must defend rights

University freshers fairs: Students seek out socialism


Socialist Party news and analysis

Wirral anti-cuts victory: 'If you fight, you can win'

Young parents need support, not attacks

Fight for a living wage

Not to Darling's pay freeze

Fast news

Campaign forces health Trust to save Crowlin House


Workplace news and analysis

An autumn of discontent in South Yorkshire

Leeds council calls for talks with unions

Fighting against outsourcing, defending working conditions at British Telecom

NUT vice president: Elect Martin Powell-Davies

Cambridge post workers strike

North Wales shop stewards network


Socialist Party feature

Social care in crisis


International socialist news and analysis

Ireland: Lisbon Treaty vote is not an endorsement for hated government

Portugal: Voters turn to the left

Foreign aid - chaining the world to capitalism

Fish Tank directed by Andrea Arnold

I speak Fula by Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba


 

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