Train station argument leads to Cannes discovery

Fri May 15, 2009 1:12pm EDT
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By James Mackenzie

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Film festivals often throw up unexpected new talent and Katie Jarvis, the 17 year-old star of British director Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank," in competition at Cannes, is the latest.

Discovered at Tilbury railway station, in Essex outside London, by a casting agent who overheard her having an argument with her boyfriend, Jarvis fit the part of the mouthy teenager Mia perfectly.

"She was giving him a bit of grief across the platform and she stood out," Arnold told a press conference after the film was screened.

Jarvis, who has just given birth, was not at Cannes but her performance has drawn praise in media ranging from Hollywood trade magazine Variety, which called it "mesmerizing" to the heavyweight French daily Le Monde, which called it "remarkable."

"Today, I'm starting to worry about her," Arnold told Reuters Television in an interview on Friday. "People are talking about her and I'm now thinking 'Oh Crikey' and I am worrying about what that means to her.

"It must seem strange because she's getting a lot of phone calls from us and I told her today to look on the Internet and she's very excited," she said.

"Fish Tank" conjures a peculiar mix of gritty authenticity and mystery from its setting, a nondescript area of scrapyards, housing estates and highway underpasses that cut through the wild and isolated country to the northeast of London.

But Jarvis's raw portrayal of a girl passing the days in aimless bouts of cider drinking and losing herself in lone sessions of hip hop dancing in an abandoned flat is at the heart of the film's wandering progress.   Continued...

<p>Director Andrea Arnold (R) poses with cast members (L to R) Michael Fassbender, Harry Treadaway and Kierston Wareing as they arrive for the screening of the film "Fish Tank" at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 14, 2009. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau</p>