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August 14, 2016

Movie: The Shallows (2016)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 7:43 pm

imageThe story is interesting. It merges the feature of several previous movies which had new concepts into one, and also does some things very well.

First of all, there are not many people in the movie. It is all about Nancy, a surfer girl, and she dominates the movie, from the beginning to end, played reasonably well by Blake Lively. You can see the stranded girl in her and she gives a credible performance. Other than that, there is the driver who takes her to the island who comes in the beginning and the end, and a couple of surfers and a drunk who come for a couple of scenes.   OK, there is dad and sister talking to her on the smartphone but that’s it. They all have a scene or two but Nancy stays with us from the beginning to the very end of the movie.

Nancy goes to the beach that her late mother had frequented. As is the custom in disaster movies, everything goes wrong. She was supposed first to go with her friend Anna but Anna claims to be sick and bails out. She goes to the beach and the waters are gorgeous and she decides to surf alone.  It is supposed to be a safe beach and she meets two other surfer dudes who try to pick her up. She politely declines and swims alone after they leave.

Then she is suddenly attacked by a Shark and manages to reach an isolated rock. With no food, no water, all her equipment on the shore and she stranded on a rock with absolutely nothing (well, almost – more of it later) to survive with, let alone battle a hungry shark doing the rounds, does she survive? If so, how? If not, how far does she get? That is the rest of the movie.

There are some things that make this movie very interesting.

First, the cinematography is stunning. The surfing scenes are like poetry; the above and under water angles and perspectives take you as close to surfing as you possibly can get in a movie.  The locale is breathtaking (Hawaii?) and the camera does full justice to the location. Brilliant.

Sentiments are galore – her sister, her father, hints about her troubles with dad, her intention to give up her medical studies in despair of having lost her mom and her blaming the father… All of it are done well, and are told in a touching way without wandering into maudlin territory. Nice.

The make up artist is fabulous. The deep gash in her leg that is shown in its raw form and the self stitching she does is impressive, even in these days of great animation.

At least since Castaway, or perhaps even before that, Hollywood likes to give a useless and dumb companion to the stranded central character. There you had Wilson, the football. Here you have a seagull stranded in the small rock with Nancy. This part, to me, sounded artificial.

The scenes where she almost gets saved multiple times (the surfer dudes just a bit too far to hear her cries for help and they calmly storing their possessions into the jeep and driving away, the ship that does not notice her flares,  or the drunk, for instance) are formulaic but still count as interesting to watch.

Initially I was thrilled to see the shark behave like a shark and not a super intelligent human equivalent that comes in Jaws, and I was prepared to see a girl with no weapons outwit it with her intelligence alone. But soon it degenerates into just such a behaviour unlike any real life shark and ends in a very similar dramatic sequence that cannot happen in real life with a real shark. What a waste of potential after that fabulous start of the movie!

 

All in all, worth watching but the performance does not compare to the brilliant portrayal by Tom Hanks in Castaway and the very artificial plotline to keep the movie interesting stop this from being a brilliant movie, in my opinion.

 

6/ 10

– – Krishna

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