‘Les Crevettes Pailletées’
The Shiny Shrimps is released on Streaming and Blu Ray from 13th January 2020. Pre-order HERE
Inspired by a real-life LGBTQ water polo team, director Cédric Le Gallo transfers his team experiences into a fictional story of the sporting underdog. The Shiny Shrimps may not offer a unique cinematic experience, but it does shine with humour and love as Pricilla Queen of the Desert meets water polo. Olympic swimmer Matthias Le Goff (Nicolas Gob) struggles to maintain his world-beating best as his career nosedives in the pool. Of course, much of his woes come from the toxic masculinity, homophobia and frustrations he recently unleashed during a TV interview. As a result, the governing body has suspended him, with his only route back the voluntary coaching of a local gay water polo team named ‘The Shiny Shrimps’.
However, The Shiny Shrimps are a team with a lacklustre history of winning and not much drive ever to do so. The team is bound together by a sense of belonging and friendship rather than sporting prowess, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t keen to get to the prestigious Gay Games in Croatia. However, this team is wrapped in their own pressures and social baggage from hidden love to militant campaigning on gay rights, new fatherhood, transitioning, and excessive partying. Therefore, as Le Goff arrives for his coaching duties, The Shiny Shrimps immediately seem beyond help. However, as the Gay Games grow closer, Le Goff begins to find belonging and meaning in the group, with his own prejudices and perceptions challenged and changed.
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Co-directors Maxime Govare and Cédric Le Gallo cleverly dovetail laugh out loud comedy with a genuinely heartwarming exploration of friendship and belonging that is bound to touch your soul. But the real success of The Shiny Shrimps sits within a narrative that explores sport as a vehicle of social inclusion and change. Too often, in LGBTQ+ cinema, sport is only reflected from the standpoint of homophobia or oppression. However, for The Shiny Shrimps, water polo is the glue that builds friendships, camaraderie and belonging, with competitiveness second to the sense of physical achievement activity can bring.
The overarching narrative swims in the vibrant colours of LGBTQ life, with characters who never succumb to the negativity or oppression around them. Here each one wears their identity with pride and confidence. Of course, that does mean there are more than a few gay stereotypes. Still, Govare and Le Gallo circumnavigate this through compassion and sincerity, ensuring the audience feel emotionally attached to each character’s journey.
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While The Shiny Shrimps may be largely predictable as it guides us through a classic underdog story similar to Cool Runnings and Swimming with Men, it does offer a surprising and tender final act. Here sport takes a back seat to the power of friendship, as The Shiny Shrimps leaves you with a few tears and a warm glow.