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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Despite enormous challenges, Mia bristles under the pressure to stay inert in an environment that's suffocating her. The message? You don't have to be a victim of your environment, though redemption and reinvention are hard to get, and true love even more so. The one true thing may be love of yourself.
Positive Role Models
Mia strives to rise above her circumstances, which is difficult, and she sometimes makes destructive choices. All the characters are flawed and, if they mean to do good, end up hurting others, including a man who appears genuinely interested in a young woman's fate but takes action that ultimately scars her.
Violence & Scariness
A girl headbutts another and leaves her with a bloodied nose. A man slaps a teenager after she tries to kidnap his daughter. Two men manhandle a young woman after she tries to free their chained horse.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An adult beds a teenager while her mother is passed out upstairs. He's shown removing her pants and positioning himself between her legs. A teen spies on her mother and her boyfriend while they have sex in the dark; her breasts are briefly shown, and his chest is bared. Couples dance suggestively; a teenager walks into a kitchen, where a man appears to be fondling a woman under her skirt (nothing is seen except for the hand under clothing).
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Runs the gamut from "skanky" and "s--t" to "f--k" and "c--t."
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Products & Purchases
Some beer labels; one of the characters is keen on stripping Volvos of parts for his own use. Certain CD covers are shown.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Both adults and children -- as young as tweens -- drink and smoke frequently.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this British drama about a teenager who falls for her inattentive mother's boyfriend can be relentlessly bleak at times, and its mature themes may be too intense for all but the oldest of teens. But it's a powerful film with a heroine who's determined and resourceful in a world with few options. There's plenty of swearing and drinking, and not just by adults. Teens and tweens have their vices, too -- like drinking and picking fights -- and are seen indulging in them fairly frequently. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The world portrayed in FISH TANK is bleak and claustrophobic. Fathers are absent; mothers ignore their children; and children smoke, curse, and drink like their parents. Everyone struggles to survive, and connections with great potential are corrupted by circumstances and human frailty. But in writer-director Andrea Arnold's hands, it's a world that intrigues. She allows the story to unfold in its own time, refraining from cheapening the enterprise with frantic cuts and oppressive music, as other filmmakers sometimes do. She tells a tale we've heard before but with amazing dexterity.
What makes Mia and Connor's questionable-yet-palpable connection compelling and believable are the performances. Fassbender's Connor isn't so much lecherous as confused, unable to explain himself or his desires and intentions. And Jarvis, as Mia (her first movie role), astonishes, balancing longing with confusion and rage. Combative and insulting, Mia isn't all that likable. But we wish for her nothing but joy and escape. It's not a given she'll get either.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.