Saturday, October 15, 2022

Brooklyn Horror ’22: Year of the Shark

This shark is about to discover French people taste great. It only makes sense, considering how much wine they consume. Naturally, the killing machine with fins shows up in the waters surrounding a French resort village, a mere two days before Maja Bordenave expected to retire from their local coast guard station. Of course, she wants to stay to catch the big fish in screenwriter-directors Ludovic & Zoran Boukherma’s Year of the Shark, which screened at the 2022 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.

The mayor of La Pointe is not much, but at least he moves quicker to close the beaches than Murray Hamilton did in the
Jaws movies. People did not want to believe Bordenave’s initial reports, because they already lost one season to Xi’s Covid, but it is hard to argue with the body parts in the water. Frankly, this is the sort of crisis she has been preparing all her career for, but not so much her junior colleagues Blaise and Eugenie. Throughout it all, her devoted husband Thierry loyally stands by her, even when the town turns against her.

The Boukhermas never hide the inspiration they took from the great granddaddy of all shark movies. In fact, they even quote directly from
Jaws, in a way that makes sense within the dramatic context. There is definitely a shark out there eating people, but Year is sort of a shark movie with a pinch of Ibsen, focusing just as much on the implications for the Bordenaves' marriage and the divisions that start tearing the community apart. In that respect, the Covid references make sense, because they further raise the stakes for the beleaguered local business owners.

Weirdly, Marina Foïs has better chemistry with Jean-Pascal Zadi and Christine Gautier as her colleagues than Kad Merad playing her milquetoast husband. Frankly, her socially awkward reserve needs to be counterbalanced by their naïve mischievousness. In contrast, the Bordenaves really seem like they belong together, which makes them dull to watch on screen.

definitely reminds us sharks are something you never want to take halfway measures with. Sometimes containment just isn’t an option. It is also interesting to see a shark movie do something a bit more emotionally complex with the genre than cookie-cutters like Great White, which rely on crude manipulation. Although the balance is somewhat off, it is still a likable man vs. shark underdog story. Recommended for the shark hunting and workplace comedy, Year of the Shark screened as part of this year’s Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.