'The Shallows' - Movie Review - Celebania


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Saturday 17 September 2016

'The Shallows' - Movie Review

On the lines of Castaway, Wild, Gravity and other survival stories, The Shallows sends forth its thrills with acute engagement derived from several heart-in-the-mouth moments that keep your eyes glued to the screen all through its short, taut and exciting runtime.

Nancy (Blake Lively), who has taken a break from med-school to rethink her take on life, goes to a secluded secret beach in Mexico (where her mom once took her) in order to come to terms with her mother’s illness and subsequent death. And that’s where she gets battle hardened and brushes up on her survival skills.

She sets out to surf on the secluded beach and is caught unawares by a great white shark that is annoyed by the disturbance around his feeding ground (a dead whale floating nearby). The two other surfers have already left for the day, exhausted by their frolic in the emerald waters. And Nancy has just about run out of luck after having been bitten badly on the thigh by the angry shark that is now stalking her as his primary prey. Bleeding profusely, with the shore just 200 yards away and the shark circling her safe island with vigorous regularity, she has to pull off a survival story that could well become the next legend in cinema history. There’s no hope for help and her only companion is an injured seagull, who she nicknames Steven Seagull.

Jaume Collet-Serra knows all the tricks in the book to get you hooked. And a skimpily clad Lively (though the primary attraction) is not the only lure here. He sets up the scenario quite beautifully. Modern gadgets like the GoPro are used to give us individualised experiences of victims and the PIP technique, allowing for a cinematic view of mobile conversations, sets-up critical timelines and generally adds more teeth to the excitement within. Anthony Jaswinski’s screenplay, though minimal, manages to set up enough thrills to keep you glued to the screen right through the eventful runtime. Collet-Serra uses the silences quite beautifully. The audience is lured in by the beauty of the setting, almost lulled and entranced by the uncorrupted glory of nature’s bounty only to be suddenly shattered by the swiftness of the attack. And then, it’s all about resilience, fortitude and extreme survival skills.

The Shallows, like Jaws, is made to generate thrills. The visceral suspense is built up so masterfully that you are left breathless with anticipation. There may be a few credibility flaws in the animal behaviour and movements, but the smart CGI, picturesque and experiential cinematography combined with Lively’s heartfelt performance makes every moment of this contrived, traumatic experience so real that it stays with you for a long time.

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