tue 05/07/2022

The Shallows | reviews, news & interviews

The Shallows

The Shallows

Trouble in paradise for Blake Lively courtesy of a hungry shark

Neither deep nor 'The Deep': an imperilled Blake Lively in 'The Shallows'

Forty-one years since Jaws chomped its way into celluloid history comes a new addition to the shark film genre with The Shallows, in which Gossip Girl star Blake Lively plays a Texan surfer who goes mano a mano with a hungry fish. How much more does one really need to know? Not a whole lot beyond the inevitable truism that trouble starts brewing from the very moment our plucky heroine tells some new-found friends that she's "gonna be all right". 

At which point, cue the gradual isolation of the grieving Nancy, who has recently lost her mum, once an innocent swim in a remote corner of Mexico - billed, helpfully, as "paradise" - turns from the bucolic to the beastly. The coral reefs prove savage and so does a ravenous and persistent shark, both of which test the mettle of a Galveston gal who emerges transformed by the experience: indeed, maybe she'll pursue that elusive medical career after all. 

Dialogue is scant and tends towards the "go back" (and, later, "come back") variety, leaving Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra to cater to what the audience has come to see. That consists of multiple perspectives on a forbidding seascape that plunge us into the depths - sorry, I mean the shallows - not to mention extensive perusal of a toned, bikini-clad Lively at her most lithe.  

Curvaceous but clearly clever, Nancy is scrutinised by a camera that is only slightly less carniverous than the dreaded shark. A game Lively gives it her best Sandra Bullock in space-style all, both before and after Nancy starts losing blood, battling gangrene, and eating unidentifiable sea critters in an attempt to stay alive. 

Consisting for most of its notably lean running time (under 90 minutes) of Lively more or less on her own, The Shallows doesn't quite rival Robert Redford's recent All Is Lost when it comes to commandeering a film singlehandedly. Nancy is just too generically conceived to represent anything more than moviedom's latest damsel in distress, this time tricked out with enough lingering shots of her smartphone to signal a breed of product placement unavailable to Steven Spielberg four decades ago.

Those who follow such things may note the apologetic tone with which Nancy confesses early on to being American, in one of the few conversations she is allowed by the script. But Mexico gets it in the craw as well, not least when a boozy local turns up on the beach and proceeds to walk off with Nancy's stuff, waving at her cheerily all the while. Who wrote that portion of the narrative - Donald Trump? 

Overleaf: watch the trailer for The Shallows


Nancy exists to be scrutinised by a camera only slightly less carniverous than the dreaded shark.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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