Sundance Review: The Sharks

Score:  B-

Director: Lucía Garibaldi

Cast: Romina Bentancur, Fabián Arenillas, Valeria Lois, Federico Moronsini

Running Time: 83 Minutes

Rated: NR

The Sharks isn’t about fish, not really. This is yet another coming-of-age story, generic in its story, but with specific details that could only have come from writer-director Lucía Garibaldi’s real life.

Rosina (Romina Bentancur) is a bored teen, too curious for her own good. It’s a lazy summer in their forgotten beach town. As she drifts through the days, she searches for something to occupy her time. Some days that’s joining in the local hubbub over a possible shark sighting and some dead marine life. Other days that’s torturing her older sister and younger brother. But when she attracts the attention of Joselo (Fabián Arenillas), one of her dad’s older landscaping employees, it consumes her whole world.

Yes, it’s more than a little uncomfortable that this adult and child are talking about and engaging in sexual acts – one scene prompted multiple walkouts at my screening – but it’s treated with a frankness that doesn’t diminish what’s happening, but never leers at it either. It also doesn’t make the guy out to be anyone special. He’s just a gross meathead who all but ignores her when their hook-up doesn’t go according to plan. But that attention – common to her sister and her more active friends, but foreign to her – ignites something in her.

Rosina retaliates by stealing Joselo’s beloved dog. It’s a pretty heartless thing to do, but she at least takes care of her while she hides him from her family (which doesn’t need any more stress or another mouth to feed). But when the pup goes missing, she finds herself reaching out to him again.

The Sharks is yet another sexually frank coming-of-age story. You can find those at a lot of festivals. But what makes this one stand out, even if only slightly, is the little nuances that had to be gleaned from real life: the grandmother wrapping all her couch cushions in a roll of industrial plastic wrap, the older sister almost losing an eye, being used as guinea pigs as her mom tries out new treatments for her in-home salon. It’s personal stuff, and Bentancur brings it to life.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.