Tuesday, 16 August 2016


Blake Lively on a rock with a seagull - at times skirting with notions of 'pure cinema,' as many of the best thrillers often do, The Shallows is an excellent example of the pitfalls of fleshing out a concept whose worth was in its innate leanness. Jaume Collet-Serra is a flashy director, one who will surely never make a great film, since his propensity for gauche, garish commercial pandering will forever hold him back. But in his brash, vibrant mise-en-scene there is thus effort and intention, a will to actually enhance his material, an artistic outlook that's wholly situated in the arena of mass-market multiplex fodder, but that's nonetheless remarkably effective. A subtler director might have stripped The Shallows of its excesses - it might have been shorn of the silliness that at times undoes its charm, but it'd have been shorn of that charm too. Collet-Serra deploys his flashiness in ugly split-screen effects, but also in stunning overhead shots, in nonsensical action sequences, but also in genuinely gripping ones. Human vs. beast: there's that concept, and it's an enduring one, not only over 90 minutes but over 90+ years of cinema. Admittedly, The Shallows responds to the temptation of over-embellishing its concept as a necessity - human vs. shark is an unavoidably one-sided match. It does so with verve, only rather too much by the end. And in such poor taste! Many, many more sharks are killed every year by humans than humans killed by sharks. They've got far more reason to fear us than we do them, especially if we all choose to take after Blake Lively with a gammy leg on an overturned buoy.