The Shallows

"Very Good"

The Shallows Review


With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes the audience on a terrifying odyssey involving a lone woman and a menacing shark. What emerges is a gruelling one-woman show, as Blake Lively throws herself into a ferocious cat and mouse game that's relentlessly suspenseful.

She plays Nancy, a young medical school drop-out on a pilgrimage to a mythical beach her mother told her about before dying of cancer. So she has very personal reasons to visit it. And with the help of nice-guy guide Carlos (Oscar Jaenada), she finds it on a remote stretch of Mexico's coastline. After video chatting with her father and sister (Brett Cullen and Sedona Legge), she paddles out to join a couple of local surfers. Then when she decides to stay for one last wave on her own, the great white pounces. Injured and alone, she takes refuge on a tiny rock that will disappear when the tide rises. And in order to survive, she'll have to get creative.

Shot in Australia, the film is carefully assembled to ratchet up the intensity right from the start. Collet-Serra gleefully stirs in plenty of creepy Jaws-like insinuation, hinting at what's coming long before he reveals the enormous single-minded shark. The combination of digital effects and rubbery models never quite looks real, but the film is so sharply well-made that we never mind. And besides, Lively does a great job at convincing us that she's in proper peril. This is a full-bodied performance, so grounded and authentic that Lively is able to take the audience through the ordeal right with Nancy. Her experience in the water is bolstered through visions and flashbacks that add a surprising emotions. And her banter with Carlos offers some insight into her feisty personality.

Even so, all of this feels deeply contrived. And as the title hints, there isn't much depth. But Collet-Serra cleverly makes the situation feel almost unnervingly real, complete with some nasty grisliness. Even though most of Nancy's dialogue is with an injured seagull sharing her rock, it's fascinating to watch her desperately work out every option around her, from improvised medicine to attempts to communicate with oblivious passers-by on the beach. There's nothing big or terribly complex about this movie, but its simplicity works beautifully. There also isn't a single dull moment, and it leaves us feeling like we've survived a nail-biting brush with one of nature's most deadly predators.

Rich Cline



The Shallows

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 86 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th June 2016

Budget: $17M

Production compaines: Columbia Pictures, Ombra Films, Weimaraner Republic Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 92 Rotten: 28

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Producer: , Matti Leshem

Starring: as Nancy, as Carlos, Sedona Legge as Chloe, as Father, Janelle Bailey as Mother

Also starring: ,

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