'Fish Tank' is a social realist film targeted at a niche audience; this is a film displaying a realistic portrayal of British society and the physical and mental struggles that some individuals face. The actors used in social realist films are usually unknown actors, for example; Mia was selected to feature in 'Fish Tank' because she was caught rowing with her boyfriend at a train station, the use of unknown actors adds to the realism factor of the text. Typically, films within the social realist genre are gritty, urban dramas about the struggle to survive the daily grind; this is true of this particular film. In this particular film, nearly all of the shots are filmed via a handheld camera; the use of the handheld camera in social realist films expresses the characters feelings and makes it more realistic and believable. Shots also used are tracking shots to show her walking at a very fast pace, almost as if she is running away from her problems. For example when Mia is first shown in the opening scene walking briskly through the estate the camera tracks her in a hand-held shot to reinforce the sense of realism. At this point only the diegetic sounds of the Urban estate can be heard with traffic noises recognised some way in the distance. When Mia throws stones and yells abuse at her friends father her attitude and behaviour reveal the working class conventions of the social realist genre. Her East London ascent and her use of swear words; such as "Tell your old man he's a ****" give a clear indication of her lower class upbringing and 'chavvy' representation; once again regular aspects within the genre.
During one scene Mia is using the hob and a saucepan to boil some water which shows they don’t have a kettle. This also displays the social realist convention of a lack of wealth, which is shown the miss-en-scene of the estate they live; they don’t even close the front door to their property. The horse in the film that Mia tries to free has a significant impact, I believe this is trying to show the fact they are connected in that they are both trapped and facing a struggle, the struggle faced is a convention of this particular genre of film. The lighting in a social realist film is usually natural because it makes the shots more open and doesn’t change the natural effect that the use of staged lighting may destroy. The only time natural lighting isn’t used is when Mia drifts into a fantasy moment and the lighting changes to an orange tint, her breathing also becomes heavier and exaggerated diegetically creating an enigma code as to why she is breathing this way. This enigma code is uncovered when she sleeps with Connor and the heavy breathing is repeated. Issues of representation and particularly Laura Mulvey’s theory of 'the male gaze' are opposed in 'Fish Tank' due to Mia’s female gaze and the way she sees Connor as lustful and the way her scopophillic desires are satisfied. Mia heard her mum having sex with Connor, but also Mia’s younger sister also heard Mia having sex with him, this shows that they are trapped in a cycle of learning behaviour from one another, as they are trapped in such a tightly-knit environment. When the balloon glides away at the end it could be to represent Mia’s freedom and how she has escaped the urban struggle which hopefully moving away with her new boyfriend will eliminate.
Good work Jack