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Movie Review: Blake Lively Delivers Deep Performance in 'The Shallows'

by Todd A. Smith


Nancy (Blake Lively) struggles to survive in “The Shallows” (Photo Credit: Vince Valitutti/2016 CTMG, Inc.)


‘The Shallows’ Delivers Deep Suspense 


Good print feature stories usually incorporate a looping style of artistry.

The story usually ends in the same way that it began.

“The Shallows” follows that formula well, and turns what could have been a cheesy “Jaws” rip-off into a good, and wonderfully shot suspense tale of survival.

The film begins with an inquisitive young boy finding a helmet and a GoPro camera, which has washed ashore on a mysterious and secret beach in Mexico.

Nancy (Blake Lively) has come to Mexico out of respect for her mother who gave birth to her there back in 1991.

The 20-something Nancy has come to a crossroad in her life.

She has a promising future considering she is a medical school student, but is contemplating quitting, something her late mother would have never done.

Although she has traveled to Mexico with a female companion, she is forced to surf alone on the secret beach after her friend has a severe hangover and stays behind in the comfortable bed of her hotel room.

Nancy is warned by Carlos (Oscar Jaenada) to get out of the water before nightfall, but she finds herself alone in the water after two new friends call it a day and leave the beach.

Although sharks are not known to stalk the shallow end of the water, instead preferring the deep waters, Nancy is severely bitten by a killer shark that relentlessly pursues human flesh.

Even though she is only 200 yards from shore and safety, Nancy knows not to venture to safety with the shark lurking, and finds a safe haven first on top of a dead whale and then on top of some large rocks in the ocean.

However, with her leg severely injured, Nancy knows it is only a matter of time before she succumbs to her injury and she must figure out a way to get help and survive this harrowing ordeal.

As a result of Lively’s performance, she can etch her name into the same stone as actors like James Franco (“127 Hours”) and Tom Hardy (“Locke”) because they basically carried entire films by themselves.

Lively has a little help from co-stars.  But those co-stars basically only make cameo appearances in “The Shallows.”

The co-stars are good, but their roles are shallow and Lively’s role is very deep.

While she is definitely not the same caliber of actor as the aforementioned Hardy, she does a suitable job, which leads to a good overall result for “The Shallows.”

Unfortunately, “The Shallows” is unrealistic in how it depicts Nancy’s hometown.

Nancy is from Galveston, Texas and the filmmakers make the city look like it is some glamorous locale like South Beach in Miami with crystal clear beach water and white sand.

However, in actuality, Galveston, Texas beaches look like sewer water surrounded by old dirt roads.

Despite that one slip-up, “The Shallows” is definitely suspenseful.

Furthermore, the beautiful aerial and underwater shots are simply remarkable cinematography.

And it all comes back to the beginning.

Can Nancy survive the ordeal and return to life as normal?


Or will she suffer a fatal and tragic end at the hands of Mother Nature or one of her most ferocious creations?






This article was published on Friday 24 June, 2016.
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