Film Review – The Sharks
The slow build of The Sharks is too subdued to make a strong impact. Rosina (Romina Bentancur), a fourteen year old girl who is very much an enigma as a character, keeps her face blank through much of what is happening around her. All we really know about her is she helps her dad with his lawn care business, and at the start of the film she has injured her older sister though the how and whether or not it was an accident is left ambiguous. Two things do spark her interests though: one is her belief that she saw a shark in the water, and the other is her growing desire for her co-worker Joselo (Frederico Morosini).
Rosina’s attraction is played subtly with her face revealing nothing, just Rosina simply staring at Joselo, which director Lucía Garibaldi captures with a visual flourish that lets us see how she is seeing him by putting us into her mindset with little being revealed by her facial expressions. But this subtlety continues from Rosina after events with Joselo have not been what she expected and now becomes a problem instead of an asset.
Garibaldi has some intriguing ideas but cannot keep the momentum going because Rosina’s thoughts are kept too opaque. She barely talks and her face conveys nothing throughout the entire film. We know she has anger inside her by some of the comments she makes and the actions she takes, but so much of the film is her just going about her normal life and these moments do not provide insights into her personality or struggles.
Her sister is angry over her injury and is taking a driving test, and her mother wants to start a business. These things happen around Rosina but she seems almost numb to it all. Does she not care? Is she just caught up in her own world? She acts out once or twice but it is more a reaction to something vaguely connected to Joselo. We do not learn anything beyond her anger at Joselo and we already know this early on. We sense that she is upset by Joselo based on a few comments but we are not clear how much she cares and what it is doing to her inside. So much is done to avoid revealing her actions that anything and nothing seems possible because really we do not know who Rosina is.
That Joselo has acted badly is not debatable, but to what extent that merits Rosina doing something is worth exploring yet it never is, because how much she is actually hurt is never clear. Who she is and how she deals with disappointment or adversity is never known; we are seeing everything as it takes place on screen and we just have to accept that she would do that because we do not know her enough to question it. She could be a disappointed teenager who doesn’t get a return phone call or she could be a full blown psychopath. There is nothing to build up to or be surprised by because we have no starting point for her. The incident with her sister is supposed to give some context, and other little moments seem like they mean nothing but end up having some relationship to the climax, yet we have a hard time caring because what we were building to never takes off.
This has been promoted as a coming of age film and to some extent that is correct. Rosina is coming to terms with who she is as a woman and what she wants. But she never has a start or finish to whom she is and how this experience has changed her. Was she always a little troubled and Joselo became a target, or did his actions provoke her? Who knows? Too much time is spent building up without doing enough to keep us engaged with where things are headed. The camera work of the scenes is beautifully put together and let some of the emotion and ideas to come through, but it is never a good substitute for really giving us some details on a lead who carries the entire film. The idea has some merit but in execution it never delivers.