Thursday, September 8, 2016

Movie Review: THE SHALLOWS

Nancy (Blake Lively) is about to arrive at the beach where her mother was when she first discovered she was pregnant with her. It is a completely deserted beach, deep into nature where only a couple of surfers can be found. Nancy suits up to surf and goes in to the water only to find the carcass of a whale in the middle of the sea and that's when she realizes that a shark is lurking nearby.

The Shallows is a fine modern update on the shark film, and has many remarkable feats in how it manages to build tension and not be immediately compared to Jaws. Unfortunately a lack of technical smoothness and an underdeveloped story-line keep it from being the otherwise masterful thriller it could have been.

The film opens with a prologue sequence which in fact is a flash forward. I was confused if this was the right choice or not when I first saw it, I guess the fact that it proved to be distracting during the film further down the line proves that it wasn't really worth having it, especially because it sets-up what we already know and gives us an anticipation of the end which isn't exactly smart or tricky. It just kind of spoils the film in a subtle way.

We are then introduced to Nancy as she is being brought up to the beach by a local. This is where a lot, and I mean it, a lot of character set up is delivered and it is indicative both of many of the film's problems and positives. Collet-Serra manages to really direct a great scene and take away the best he can from a screenplay that, on the other hand, has some great intentions and ideas, but had a very hard time in delivering them, with its resolution making the whole story fall flat and feel like it was shoehorned in.

There are two other scenes after that, early in the film, where we are presented with our main character's life and conflict. Once again we get touched by some incredible visual flare injected by the director who not only makes the best out of this location, shooting both from angles where we really feel in the character's space, with incredible wide shots that have a real style to them and manage to really touch your sensibility. Unfortunately, the screenplay simply isn't keeping up with its ideas and, whilst being admittedly very difficult both for director and writer to set up a situation here where to establish a conflict deeper into the character, we aren't given a dynamic that feels convincing enough, which is further proved weak in its ending. Still, what we get from this is a true and sincere attachment to Nancy, who is, despite the heavy handed writing, a very good character whom the audience easily grows to care for.

The Shallows also has another element that is deeply ambiguous: the editing. On the bright side we have a film that is flawless in its geography and imaginative in the building of tension. There are some incredibly simple editing techniques used here, but they are used to immense effect and had me sweating my hands repeatedly. On the other side, this film cheats way too many times. At the start I was forgiving of this, because I can't even imagine what a nightmare it has to be to shoot this kind of film. Yet, as we went on the film kept cheating, sometimes even deliberately to make dynamics of the story work, and it started to make for a very disjointed experience, which despite having me sweat in suspense almost constantly, it proved to be very annoying.

On a positive note I have to emphasize how great the cinematography is, both in beauty of the image, no matter if the widest of shots or the closets of inserts, and in visual storytelling. There are a couple of techniques used to build anxiety which really felt original and managed to terrify me at the same time. Moreover, Blake Lively is by all means a great lead in the film, her performance is genuine and always believable and, with the help of amazing work from the make-up department, she proves to be fantastic, bad-ass protagonist.

Jaume Collet-Serra continues to prove he is a gifted and inventive director with an eye for suspense and character focused storytelling. He had me thrilled and I wish I could have thoroughly enjoyed the experience this film could have been with just some more budget for a rewrite and better continuity.

James's Score: 6.5/10

Make sure to check us out and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all of our reviews, news, trailers, and much, much more!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment