Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) is mourning her mother when she heads off to the deserted beach on the Gulf of Mexico where her mother once surfed while pregnant with her. While a few locals also participate in catching a few choice waves, Adams’ chief companions are a seagull she nicknames Steve (Steve Seagull, get it?) and a … great white shark. Jaws seems safer than this.
While Lively spends most of her time as Adams out on a rock, there are plenty of moments that make this a star delivery for her. While Age of Adeline was pretty and all, here Lively shows off a depth of personality, scared, lonely, angry, brave, hopeless, resourceful, etc. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Run All Night), Lively finds herself in a close-up action film where it’s one woman against the beast.
Originally, I was skeptical about how this could hold our attention for an hour and a half. Seriously, how would you set this up to make it realistic and breathtaking? The Shallows answered all of those questions, in a similar way to how Buried showed that Ryan Reynolds could be pretty intense in a 2 x 2 x 6 box. [Reynolds is Lively’s husband, and that film inspired her to go after the claustrophobia of a woman trapped on a rock.
In a way, the rock is even more metaphorical for our lives than the shark. Yes, we’re circled with our problems, threatening to devour us. More often than not though, I think of my problems as tiny piranhas nibbling me to death versus a great white trying to eat all of me. But I (we?) get backed into corners where we see only one option, where it appears that hope is lost, that we have no one and nothing we can count on. But in the same way that Adams is not alone, we are not alone – we have God and each other to see us through.
Special features include a look at finding the right beach (Lord Howe’s Island), creating the shark as the audience sees it, and understanding what makes sharks go crazy for human blood!