THE SHALLOWS

— by Jeff Schultz

Given the title, it would have been soooo satisfying to write “Blake Lively is out of her depth”. In fact, the actress does ok shouldering the burden of what’s pretty much a one-woman (and one shark) film. Rather, the problem lies in a character who’s not so much unsympathetic as dull, in a perilous situation that can’t deliver the heart-stopping moments you look for in these kind of ordeal films. Lively’s predicament is simply not made vivid enough; she can be seen and heard from shore, placing her not all that far from safety – and while that’s the point, with the plot turning on a shark that won’t leave the area (because of a food-rich floating whale carcass), the way it’s shot spatially doesn’t give a proper sense of “so-near-and-yet-so-far”. There’s an (admittedly cute) seagull whose separate but adjacent struggle turns it into the equivalent of Tom Hanks’ “Wilson” in CAST AWAY— and whose own separate but adjacent happy ending too neatly wraps things up, along with a trite coda that puts paid to the heroine’s melodramatic backstory.

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