Katie Jarvis never intended to appear in movies.

The now 18-year-old highschool dropout was discovered on a scummy East London subway platform while embroiled in a venomous spat with her boyfriend. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise the unlikely star bursts with raw teenage malice in the role of Mia, an underprivileged outcast living in a disheartening British slum.

Ignored and resented by her mother, Mia finds precarious solace in tall cans and compliments — “you dance like a black” — paid by her mum’s part-time boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender). Neither a standard hip-hop dance film, nor a typical coming-of-age tale, director Andrea Arnold’s sophomore effort maintains a razor-sharp focus that often feels too close for comfort.

It’s got all the gritty intensity of Precious, but with a disarming cockney drawl.

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