Much like the rest of the world’s population, I was terrified of sharks growing up thanks to Spielberg’s notorious masterpiece, Jaws. I have no doubt that The Shallows will traumatize the new generation in a similar manner; this is a skillfully-crafted thrill-ride in every way.
I’ve only ever seen Blake Lively in one project: the pop culture phenomenon that was Gossip Girl all the way back in 2007. I remember forcing myself to watch that show’s first season, and finding Lively to be an exceptionally weak lead. So imagine my surprise when she completely blew me away in The Shallows. The actress is in every single scene and she does a tremendous job of carrying the entire thing. Filming water sequences is undoubtedly one of the hardest and most arduous tasks an actor can undertake, but Lively definitely gets you rooting for her character as she finds herself being hunted by a great white shark. The combination of her resourcefulness and relentless determination make for an excellent heroine.
The film’s script wisely doesn’t overstay its welcome. Movies that limit their narrative to a single location can often become tedious and repetitive, but The Shallows sustains its suspense with a brisk pace (it’s only 86 minutes long). I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through, and that’s no easy task. The film’s climax is a bit of an unrealistic stretch, but that’s to be expected considering the subject matter.
And finally, it must be said that this is one gorgeous film. The film’s cinematographer Flavio Labiano is a true artist: every frame is packed with so much detail and color (undoubtedly aided by the stunning Australian setting). Some of the surfing shots are a bit too obvious with regards to Blake Lively’s stunt double, but that’s a minor point.
A refreshing change from the usual blockbusters, The Shallows is a simple survival tale that’s expertly told through gripping set pieces and a powerful performance at its center. Highly recommended!