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The Shallows (Blake Lively) - Review

The Shallows

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

WHAT it lacks in emotional depth, The Shallows more than makes up for with bite, as well as a knowing sense of its own absurdity.

As tense as it can be beautifully exhilarating, Jeune Collet-Sera’s film is a white knuckle ride offering premium quality popcorn entertainment.

Blake Lively stars as Nancy Adams, a med student attempting to cope with the death of her mother, who travels out to a remote yet picturesque beach, to both honour her mum’s memory and give herself some time to think.

But her dream escape quickly turns into a nightmare when she is attacked by a great White shark while surfing and left stranded on a rock with the hungry predator still circling.

If the scenario for The Shallows recalls every survival thriller from Open Water to 127 Hours, Collet-Sera’s direction enables it to stand out. Some sequences are stunning.

Early on, the director captures the natural beauty of his location (and leading lady) in spellbinding style, while the surfing footage is stunning too (capturing both the beauty and excitement of the sport).

But once the shark appears the film reverts to a feel of sustained tension and dread. The shark attacks are swift and brutal, captured in pulse-pounding fashion.

But there’s also that pervading sense of the unknown as Nancy must decide if or when to swim for it, especially since nature’s tidal system places her on a clock.

Lively, for her part, invests her character with a notable determination but is also afforded one or two moments to channel despair and desperation, making her fallible and her survival by no means a given. She’s a worthwhile heroine to be around.

But other characters are less vividly drawn and feel more like shark bait. Their inevitable deaths, while occasionally inventive, don’t carry much meaning.

And just as Collet-Sera did with Non-Stop, so every genre cliche is thrown in, which has a tendency to stretch plausibility, while proving eyebrow raising.

There are times when a major, major suspension of disbelief is required, which is when the film’s winking nods to its own preposterous elements help (as exemplified by Nancy’s relationship with a seagull).

But if you can cast aside its obvious flaws, The Shallows is a frequently thrilling – and sometimes even Jaws-dropping – big screen experience.

View photos from The Shallows

Certificate: 15
Running time: 85mins
UK Release Date: August 12, 2016