600 feet can be more than just a distance – it could spell the difference between life and a gruesome, horrifying death. Texas girl, Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) has dropped out of medical college after her mother’s death due to a long bout of cancer. She sets out to visit the beaches and surf the waters where her mother had, a couple of decades ago. With barely a couple of surfers for company on a secluded Mexican beach (parts of the film were shot off Australia’s Gold Coast), Nancy sets off, returns for a brief rest and sets off again as sunset nears and despite the others cautioning her against venturing out. And when the partly-eaten carcass of a whale comes into view, Nancy instinctively realizes what she is up against. A desperate attempt to return to base is thwarted by a great white shark, which manages to lacerate her thigh.

Originally titled ‘In The Deep’, and set in April 2016, director Collet –Serra makes it a tale of shark v/s surfer with an indefatigable human spirit — only, in this case the medical undergrad sutures the shark’s deep bites with her earrings. Taking refuge on a rock with just an injured seagull for company — Nancy names it Steven (that’s Hollywood humour for you) — she keeps a sharp eye on the tide timings (a wonderful Casio brand endorsement) to swim across to a buoy, with the relentless great white, who’s already had three humans for starters, in pursuit.

An astounding bird’s-eye view of the ocean and underwater cinematography by Flavio Martinez-Labialo complements this grippingly structured film. With shades of Jaws (1975) and Castaway (2000), The Shallows is a one-woman show, with the bulk of the film resting on Blake Lively’s shoulders – and derriere (with the camera lingering just that shade more). The CGI effects, so effective for the most part of the film, show up towards the end. A couple of unanswered questions, though — why would a shark who’s just devoured three humans and, possibly a whale, persist in stalking one more human? Or why would a surfer go out to see with a load of trinkets?

Hoshang K. Katrak
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