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Review: Under Paris. The shark movie that promised carnage and delivered naptime

  • Release year: 2024
  • Director: Xavier Gens.
  • Producer: Sebastien Auscher.
  • Screenplay by: Yannick Dahan, Maud Heywang and Xavier Gens.
  • Cinematographer: Nicolas Massart.
  • Music by: Alex Cortés, Anthony d’Amaro and Edouard Rigaudière.

Synopsis: a new species of shark is found in the Seine. With some police help, an old acquaintance of the animal tries to kill it before it takes over Paris.

Shotgun Commentary: the prompt is way too cool for what it actually delivers. That being said, it’s not half bad if you watch it with 0 expectations and a bucket of popcorn.

Sophia (Bérénice Bejo) and Lilith the shark. Source: Under Paris (Xavier Gens, 2024).

Review

Under Paris depicts the epic battle of wits, power and resources between a scientist and a shark. Following the general concept of Moby Dick, the protagonist finds herself tangled in a years-long stand-off with a beast she can never hope to defeat, but not for lack of trying.

Three years after her whole crew, partner included, is devoured by a shark with incredible growing abilities, Sophia (Bérénice Bejo) learns that said shark is now swimming in the Seine. Apparently, despite its yellow, opaque waters, the river seems to offer the perfect environment for the shark to lay eggs (talk about fiction…).

Green, schmeen

Its presence is first detected by a group of environmentalists who want to save the ocean. As expected in a story of this calibre, the group is formed by young people who love shouting, complaining, and taking action without any previous research. They are so ridiculously annoying that their perfectly sound values end up looking like something only brainless people would think. Despite the existence of a huge number of people who complain about things without knowing more than 1% of the information, just once, it would be cool to see the environmentalists of shark films make the reasonable decisions.

Sophia (Bérénice Bejo) and Ben (Nagisa Marimoto).
Source: Under Paris (Xavier Gens, 2024).

In fact, Under Paris goes a step further. It showcases the true nature of these so-called protectors of the future of humanity and of the Earth. They trample over each other, effectively killing everyone around them with no hesitation. All this in hopes of running away from a shark they were warned about way before. The situation is hilarious, but also incredibly sad when one thinks about how many times situations like that have occurred. The paradoxical nature of people who support causes they don’t really know anything about is fascinating as well as infuriating. The minor theme for the movie, but quite relevant nonetheless.

The absurdity reaches its peak when, after the worst chaos imaginable and tons of completely avoidable deaths have taken place, the audience discovers that the police who were supposed to solve the problem were armed the whole time. If only one competent policeman had been present at the scene, the film would have finished an hour earlier easy, and with a very different result.

Hero or victim?

As for the main character, Sophie, she is so bland and forgettable that you feel exactly nothing regardless of what she’s going through. None of the characters are especially likeable or easy to empathise with. However, one expects a bit more from the protagonist, especially when that character is going to suffer so much. Regrettably, Under Paris manages to keep the spectator in a permanent state of aloofness, broken only by the sparse, albeit beautiful, jump scares.

Sophia (Bérénice Bejo). Source: Under Paris (Xavier Gens, 2024).

Additionally, there are a few things about Sophie that simply don’t sit well. Other than her general lack of passion for everything, her reactions just don’t make sense. There is a moment where she feels guilty about not saving the people who totally ignore her infinite warnings of impending death. One can’t help but wonder, would a male character feel the same? Wouldn’t anger and frustration be more logical feelings in this situation? Is she not livid about the countless deaths by stupidity that she has seen? Or is it still unbecoming for a woman to be angry? Is that why she can only feel sadness and guilt?

All in all, Under Paris promises wonders and delivers a lazy script, an awkward romance-ish, and the bare minimum amount of jump scares to be considered a shark horror movie. A big let down that can only be salvaged by having some nice company over to laugh together.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • Do NOT swim in murky waters. Death by shark might be the best that can happen to you if you do.
  • In case you still don’t know this one, never trust a politician.
  • If someone says “don’t get into the water”, find out why they are saying it BEFORE you get into the water.
Sophia (Bérénice Bejo) and Lilith the shark. Source: Under Paris (Xavier Gens, 2024).

What’s your take? Have you watched Under Paris? What’s your favourite way to watch shark films? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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