Sunday, 11 September 2011

Fish Tank, dir/wr. Andrea Arnold, st. Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Michael Fassbender

Here's a question: To what extent should Art be standalone? Do we take into account creators' previous output? Do we contextualise their product with their personal circumstances? For me, this is what I call the Made In Heaven conundrum; Queen's last studio album isn't actually that great, yet vocally, Freddie Mercury's voice soars and roars just as it always has. But when you read his vocal takes were cut and pasted, for so stricken with HIV was he at this point he could barely stand or finish a breath, we are forced, we must re-evaluate the record on these terms. Similarly, Andrea Arnold's spiky and tremendously moving social drama, hewn from a well-trod path of broken families and the wayward kids within, ultimately suffers from this enforced contextualisation. As hypnotically watchable as the young Katie Jarvis is, there is something discomforting about her performance once you realise how closely elements of her life parallel her character's. Maybe that's the point, but I suspect for many casual filmgoers, this important information will remain unresearched. It's important because watching films isn't like visiting the zoo. There must exist a transfer of information, a partnership between giver and recipient. Fish Tank is undoubtedly a sensitively written and performed film, but cinema's usage of 'found' actors, alas, continues to perturb.