Cinema: we saw "The Year of the Shark", the first French shark film by the Boukherma brothers

Cinema: we saw “The Year of the Shark”, the first French shark film by the Boukherma brothers

After the werewolf in “Teddy”, it’s the shark’s turn to pass in front of the Boukherma brothers’ camera, in “The Year of the Shark”, in theaters on August 3.

With “The Year of the Shark”, on screens next August 3, the brothers Bukherma realize “a cinema fantasy”, in this case, the first French shark film, and continue to blur the lines between genres for their third feature film.

In the middle of summer, terror appears on the beaches of the Southwest. A shark attacks the boaters of Cap Ferret. Maya (Marina Fois), a maritime policeman a few days from retirement, will have to hunt the creature with her colleagues Blaise (Jean-Pascal Zadi) and Eugenie (Christine Gautier). But very quickly, they come up against criticism from the locals…

Soon a trademark?

Fans of genre cinema, Ludovic and Zoran had been talked about with “Teddy”, a werewolf feature film starring Anthony Bajon. Combining rural comedy and monster film, it was part of the Official Selection of the Cannes film festival 2020.

After lycanthropy, the twins, graduates of the Cité du cinema school in Luc Besson, therefore tackle a new creature, more realistic this time: the shark. If the action seems to be at the tip of Cap Ferret, it is a perfectly fantasized vision of the Aquitaine coast that is offered to us. The Boukherma wishing to give a fairy tale look to their story, and thus confirms their pleasure in freeing themselves from boxes to deliver hybrid works, with an offbeat universe.

Shark and Covid

This singular universe is found first in the staging, with a singular approach to camera angles and focal lengths (the depth of field rendered on the screen, editor’s note). So many artifices used to create a feeling of anguish during moments of terror, or conversely, an “offbeat” aspect in comic sequences. Moreover, the film is not stingy with graphic images that will delight lovers of hemoglobin.

Zoran and Ludovic Boukherma also dare, through this story of sharks, to bite into social themes with full teeth. The Covid is thus an integral part of the film during scenes reminiscent of the media’s treatment of the health crisis: the one who does not believe in it, the shopkeeper who only thinks about his business, so many archetypes which allow the film to gain in density.

The two brothers also go there from their animalist point of view, initially refusing to see the shark as an enemy of man. A posture that unfortunately collapses during the film. In the end, this feature film, straddling several genres, seems to hesitate to choose the tone that suits it.

Not even afraid

If on paper, all these elements work independently of each other, their assembly does not necessarily seem obvious on the screen. Mixing genres is a relevant exercise, which can prove to be perilous and to which the Boukherma do not always seem to find solutions.

So much so that we end up detaching ourselves from the adventures that overwhelm the protagonists of “The Year of the Shark”. Too absurd to frighten and paradoxically too basic to provoke hilarity, the feature film suffers from a lack of balance. This is the case with the sequences in homage to the cult “Jaws” by Steven Spielberg, which no longer serve as a simple glance at the father of the genre. We will nevertheless salute the success of the special effects, signed Pascal Molina (“The City of Lost Children”, “The Foam of the Days”), which for a low-budget independent feature film, remain stunning from start to finish.

Audacious and burlesque, “The Year of the Shark” lacks the bite to freeze our blood. But the energy of the twin filmmakers put into this offbeat proposal will refresh cinemas during the hot month of August that awaits us. To be reserved for an informed public.

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