<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Starring Blake Lively, Brett Cullen, Oscar Jaenada, Jose Manuel, Sdona Legge
Running Time: 1 hour 27 minutes
Not since Jaws or Deep Blue Sea have sharks been so menacing.
When a good friends and colleague commented that the film would basically be us watching Blake Lively’s lithesome body cowering from a shark we didn’t expect much. But surprisingly, The Shallows has a lot of depth as a thriller involving a hot babe and a shark in the shallow of the sea.
Blake Lively is more than just a body. She plays Nancy, who cheats death with remarkable gusto that’s coupled with the right amount of raw fear and sorrow. Nancy is getting over the loss of her mother by finding herself somewhere on a relatively untouched beach in Mexico. There, with the waves as her therapists, she surfs the crests to get over her lows. But soon enough, a terror from the coral-filled waters emerges to break through the illusion of peace that she has created for herself.
Sure there are plenty of shots of Lively’s lissome body in a bikini and wetsuit top as she slithers on a tiny island with nothing but a wounded seagull for company. But there are far more shots of the rippling blue waters from high above and down below that will beguile you even more.
As the man-eater terrorises her, sometimes viciously and at others by subtle circling, Nancy must tend to her wounds, try to call out for help and evade the rising tide. Her attempts are nail-biting and all-too-real. There’s no CGI or great trickery involved here. Just some wonderful cinematography, great direction and haunting music.
Lively gives a commendable performance here in what could easily have become a B-movie with some blonde girl screaming throughout and ultimately having to be saved by some charming surfer dude! But this never happens. Nancy must survive on her own. And she does this with immense courage and tenacity. It’s only at the end that you smirk a little at the way she finally overcomes the odds to come out of anyone’s worst nightmare. But you forgive the filmmakers for that too because you’re half cheering it as you’ve just been praying for her safety.
The Shallows is one of the few shark films that I’ll remember as being scary along with, of course, Jaws and – though some may grimace at my other rather cheesy but adrenalin pumping pick – Deep Blue Sea.