Fish Tank (2009)
Writer/director Andrea Arnold excels with her unassuming direction in Fish Tank, a film about a flippant and erratic 15-year-old girl from "the wrong side" of London who wanders her local streets half-heartedly trying to find something to do or care about, occasionally popping home to an impertinent younger sister and an uncaring mother - who suddenly one day has a new boyfriend who gives the girls in the house some sorely needed attention.
Arnold's unpolished but constantly faithful directing style belongs to a strong British cinematic tradition developed by great directors such as Ken Loach (My Name Is Joe). She also tells her story, set in an environment she obviously knows well, exclusively from her young protagonist's perspective, which gives the film an interesting quality; we're compelled to sympathize with her, even though she may not be any better or less flawed than the many highly flawed people she encounters. And with Arnold telling her story with a complete lack of bias and judgment, thus never trying to guide our emotions, we're challenged intellectually as well as morally. Arnold doesn't want to lay blame, she wants to portray human complexity and frames of mind as truthfully as she can. It's hard to get much closer to true authenticity than she does here. Fine performances from the completely natural Katie Jarvis in the lead (who was picked up by a casting agent at a local railway-station) and the constantly impressive Michael Fassbender complements this Cannes Jury Prize Winner.