This is a must-see! The most nail-biting, suspense film I've seen this year by far - with several moments when I couldn't bear to look at the screen for fear of what might happen, and did!
In this film (Spaniard Jaume Collett-Serra is director) Blake Lively is a 20-something nurse who takes a 'pilgrimage' to the part of the Mexican Pacific coast where her mother had mysteriously disappeared a few years previously, to try to find out what happened as well as to enjoy herself surfing and swimming. (It was actually filmed in Queensland, but we can let that pass).
The suspense begins early on in the film when we are briefly shown that there's something in the sea (okay, it's an enormous shark and, boy, is it mad!) but she isn't yet aware of it. I don't want to give much more away as the tension is very successfully built up until and beyond the point that the creature reveals itself to her. For most of the film the young woman is stranded on a piece of rock just a couple of hundred yards from the shore, a rock which at high tide protrudes to little more than a couple of times more than her own body size. She's quite understandably reluctant to leave the safety of her 'refuge' and make for dry land, her only companion being an injured gull which is unable to fly. There are also some grizzly moments when she has to perform blood-saturated self-surgery on herself. (Yuk!)
Comparisons are obviously being made with outstanding shark classic, 'Jaws', of course - and this stands up very well against it. But whereas 'Jaws' hardly puts a foot wrong for its entire length
(despite while filming, the cast and Spielberg himself having serious doubts if the film would work), 'The Shallows' is equally sure-footed - except up to the very final scenes when my credulity was stretched to the point of slightly devaluing all that had gone before. It's a shame, that. I suppose it can be blamed on the writer, but even so it's nowhere near so crucial as to destroy the film. It just gives a needlessly cosy finish to what could have more successfully achieved with a little more acerbity, daring and uncertainty in its conclusion.
There is a brave filmic moment when one of the minor characters meets a predictably horrible end in the shark's jaws - and he isn't only the one. All we are shown is Blake Lively's face of horror witnessing it while we only hear the sounds of the ghastly scene. I was particularly impressed by the bold use of that technique.
Despite my reservation (yes, just the one!) I thoroughly recommend this. If I was rating 'Jaws' now I'd probably give that film an 8.5. I was initially considering rating this one with a 7.5, but I ultimately think that it deserves more than that. So it's an...............8.
4 hours ago