If you ever saw Blake Lively get through an episode of ‘Gossip Girl’, you’ll know that she is a woman who thrives in piranha-infested waters. ‘The Shallows’, a tremendously entertaining bit of fluff, pits her against a CG great white shark. The poor creature doesn’t stand a chance.
Based on a lean script (by Anthony Jaswinski) that was probably written in between piña coladas on a beach, the movie takes pride in its minimalism. Lively stars as Texas surfer and medical school dropout Nancy, who arrives at the Mexican paradise where her mother, who has recently died of cancer, once spent a summer. Nancy’s best friend? Back at the hotel, nursing a hangover. That pesky mobile? Stowed in the backpack. The turquoise water beckons…
After a nasty leg chomp, Nancy flops on to a tiny rock just a few hundred yards offshore, where she’ll have to outwit a predator, sew up her own wound with her earrings (ouch!), give therapy to a neurotic seagull and somehow signal for help. This isn’t ‘Jaws’: there’s no larger dimension, no elemental poetry.
But Lively’s confidence keeps it afloat – even when realism starts slipping away in the final stretch.‘The Shallows’ fits her like a wetsuit. This is her ‘Speed’, and she’s its Keanu.