Under Paris Movie Review: A shark thriller with little bite

Under Paris Movie Review: A shark thriller with little bite

Filmmaker Xavier Gens' Under Paris (Sous La Seine in French) has its fair share of problems, the worst of it all being its confusion on which narrative ideas to develop
Under Paris(1.5 / 5)

Under Paris begins with a pre-title sequence in which a group of marine scientists are dangerously proximate to a man-eating shark. Unsurprisingly, all but one member of the team survives the vicious attack. The surviving scientist Sophia (Berenice Bejo) goes on to live far away in Paris with memories of the traumatic incident in which she lost her husband. The shark, named Lillith for some reason, finds her way to trouble Sophia once again after conservation activist Mika (Léa Léviant) spots her in the Seine River with a tracker.

Director - Xavier Gens

Language - French (With English subtitles)

Streamer - Netflix

From this point, director Gens seems confused about whether the shark must be treated as a monster or pet. This dilemma, persisting for an hour of the film’s runtime, is rather frustrating to experience. By the time the film makes up its mind, it gets hard to root for the protagonist, especially since good old logic seems to take a hit too.

Add to the proceedings a smug mayor (Anne Marivin) who doesn't want anything hampering the triathlon Olympics in Paris—which leaves you wondering how Parisian cops let a bunch of 20-year-old activists foil their covert operation? It’s possible, sure, but it’s the business of the film to sell it. Underwater deaths begin mounting in number, but the Parisians are strangely devoid of panic.

Further narrative issues come in the way of a screwball subplot involving the discovery of active World War II artillery under the Seine. The shark may be kept under wraps, but how’s the mayor keeping this problem a secret? Again, it’s possible, but the film doesn’t necessarily convince us of this.

In such films, the absence of at least one sensible cop really rankles. The cops may not be trained to handle a devastating underwater creature, but surely, they can at least stop themselves and the general public from acting in the silliest of ways. The saving grace about this film comes in the form of the fine visuals and some impressive action choreography. The camerawork is fine too, but there’s only so much technical prowess can do, when a film struggles to create engaging moments—and this, even with elements like World War 2 machinery and a deadly prehistoric creature.

Cinema Express