Review: The Sharks
- Uruguay's Lucía Garibaldi presents a simple, atmospheric and pop-hued story about a teenage girl and her struggle to navigate the masculine and feminine worlds that surround her
It’s the off-season in a Uruguayan coastal resort and the locals are enjoying some peace and quiet, when suddenly the spell is broken by a startling rumour: it seems that sharks have been spotted from the beach. Hardly anyone believes it, but Rosina, an introverted 14-year-old girl, claims to have seen sharks in the waters off the coast and is determined to stick to her story even if nobody wants to listen. Rosina is no stranger to going against the grain. She seems to drift through life without a clear direction, as if her only aim is to avoid being bitten, either by others or herself — so far, so teenage.
The Sharks [+see also:
film profile], Uruguayan filmmaker Lucía Garibaldi’s first full-length feature, invites us to see the world through Rosina’s eyes. The film premiered at Sundance in the World Cinema Dramatic competition (leaving with the award for best directing) and is now being shown in the Latin Horizons section at the 67th San Sebastián International Film Festival.
As our heroine (played by newcomer Romina Bentancur) navigates her world, Garibaldi builds up an emotional house of cards that threatens to collapse at any moment. Soon after seeing her first shark, she lands a job in home maintenance, working with a team of ultra-masculine men. She soon finds herself developing feelings for one of her new colleagues, Joselo (Federico Morosini), a young fisherman several years older than herself; his damp skin and the bulge beneath his shorts become the catalyst for Rosina’s sexual awakening. Meanwhile, she has family problems to cope with, between a strict and somewhat distant father, a mother preoccupied with her modest business efforts (selling cosmetics and hair-removal products) and a sister she clashes with on a regular basis. The contrast between Rosina’s habitual introspection and her reactions to her intimately familiar but hostile environment is the driving force of the plot, which reaches its zenith when she makes the risky decision to try to get her crush’s attention.
The Sharks tells its story clearly and simply, unfolding at a leisurely pace as Garibaldi conjures up an evocative summer atmosphere with tangible pop influences, supported by luminous photography from Germán Nocella and an upbeat indietronic sound track by Fabrizio Rossi and Miguel Recalde. The film offers no earth-shattering insights from what is a fairly standard coming-of-age tale, but it is elevated by its very lack of pretension and well worth the ticket price. Perhaps its greatest strength is its uniquely feminine perspective and its skilful portrayal of teenage tribulations as experienced by a young girl, with themes including female relationships, sex and the human body explored in a fresh, natural and open-minded way. Throughout it all, Rosina strives to find her own balance between male and female domains, hoping to come to at least a partial understanding of who she really is.
The Sharks was produced by Montelona Cine (Uruguay), Trapecio Cine (Argentina) and Nephilim Producciones (Spain). US company Visit Films is managing international sales.
(Translated from Spanish)
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