Ready? Here we go…
I took the bait.
I had a few hours to kill and a gift card burning a hole in my pocket so I went and caught the latest Shark film- “the Shallows” over at the Maya Cinema. It had some decent buzz surrounding it and I happen to like these types of films. So the card when through and I dropped two fins off the total. I grabbed a bucket of popped corn and a cup of soda, I took my seat in what I thought would be an empty auditorium- but alas, others were soon to join me in my Thursday screening. The film started to roll and we were already off and swimming.
So here’s the story- a woman (played by Blake Lively) is on a journey of “self discovery” after the passing of her mother due to cancer. We get a bit of lazy exposition drop early in the film- she’s a med student who just dropped out, she’s been on this journey for some time, and she has a younger sister that she helped raise. We learn all of this in the first ten minutes of the film and- actually, it’s all done quite well for what it is. This is who she is, this is what brought her to this largely abandoned beach, now let’s get on with the film and the direction handles this information very well considering my usual distaste for this type of writing. Suffice to say that we know everything we need to know about this woman in the first few minutes of the film and then the action moves on from there. And I was hooked!
What’s the action? Well, she’s out surfing in the breakers of this small beach when she is attacked by a shark. She manages to make it to a small island in the shallows, but the tide is going to wipe this island out eventually so she needs to either wait for a rescue or somehow outsmart the ultimate eating machine. It’s basic and there aren’t many frills to complicate the issue- and it’s really good. You might say it never flounders! Lively is an engaging actress and I can’t help but draw a little comparison to her real life husband and his performance in “Buried”- (Ryan Reynolds, trapped in a coffin the entire film.). She isn’t an actress I’m overly familiar with- I haven’t seen much of her work. But she is completely engaging in this film and she carries a strong lead throughout the piece. She spends the majority of the film trapped on a coral reef and vacillates between playing the helpless damsel and the fighting woman her parents raised her to be. And this is where that back story comes into play- because we see the journey she is on and the decisions she is making, why she is making them, and where they will ultimately lead her to. So while I groaned inwardly at the start of the film, the whole of it made sense of everything much later- and the film eventually asks the question: “How much do you want to survive?”
4 out of 5.