So Near And Yet So Far

The Shallows
Stars: Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen and Sedona Legge with Sully the Seagull
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Scriptwriter: Anthony Jazwinski
Composer: Marco Beltrami
Cinematographer: Flavio Labiano
Columbia Pictures
Rating: R for scenes of peril concerning a shark
Running Length: 87 minutes

2016 is the 50th anniversary of the heart-pounding “Jaws,” that gave us the famous line, “You need a bigger boat.” This was a man’s film starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, with Murray Hamilton as the mayor-comic relief. Now, 2016 offers us Blake Lively (“Gossip Girl”) as a surfer who meets a great white shark under frightening circumstances. The familiar buoy is there, as is the shark, and a friendly seagull, who gets a screen credit. “The Shallows,” though, is a scary story of a surfer who goes out alone and meets unwanted company. This film was done in Australian waters.

Nancy (Blake Lively who did many of her own stunts) is a medical student who just lost her mother. Mom had a favorite beach and Nancy wanted to go there alone for personal time and reflect. She lets her sister (Sedona Legge) and her father (Brett Cullen) know about the trip and Dad disagrees, but Nancy goes anyway. While at the beach, Nancy meets other surfers and no one seems concerned about any danger there. Nancy goes out alone and is enjoying herself, when she sees a large floating dead fish. Now frightened, she heads for shore, only to encounter a great white shark who makes a run for her, but Nancy, though wounded, manages to make it to a large rock. From now on, this is a story of survival and out-thinking a predator shark. Nancy ends up trying to sew up the large leg wound with an earring, befriends a wounded seagull and finds that no one pays attention to her when she calls for help or tries to warn them. Time is not on her side as her leg is starting to fester, this really is a deserted beach and with the tide coming in, her sanctuary rock will soon be covered with water. What to do?

Blake Lively is in most of the film and does an athletic Nancy. This is another story of it-won't-happen-to-me, that suddenly comes true. The setting of beach, water and sky are beautiful, but we know what lurks out there. As a medical student, Nancy trains to save lives, but the shark trains to take lives. Two contestants in a life struggle. The shark is realistic enough, since the great white sharks from the “Jaws” films were consistently blown up, there are no relatives left.

The film an edge-of-your-seat movie that is just the right length without fillers, and may leave you at times, with sweaty palms. Blake Lively (married to Ryan Reynolds) takes the role of Nancy and goes with it. You are right there with her in the water and on the rock. You don't have to be a surfer to appreciate the action.

Copyright 2016 Marie Asner