This review is brought to you in partnership with our friends at Breaking Glass Pictures
Sharks use a range of extraordinary senses in hunting their potential prey, from electrical energy to smell and sound. But are we as humans any different in our hormonally driven hunt of the people we desire? And does this hunt for a potential sexual partner ultimately ride the wave of the deeply rooted animalistic human brain. These are just some of the themes flowing in the currents of Uruguayan writer-director Lucia Garibaldi’s debut feature The Sharks (Los Tiburones). Merging the burning want and desire of emerging female sexuality with the predatory and carnal realms of the human/animal brain. Ultimately creating a slow moving but fascinating journey into adolescent desire and acceptance.
As the sun beats down, Rosina (Romina Bentancur) runs along a small coastal path towards the sea. Her father in tow urgently calling her name as she heads for the water. Rosina has ‘accidently’ injured her older sisters eye, her father demanding to know what happened as Rosina escapes his interrogation. However, on entering the sea she finally turns back to the man pursuing her, realising her escape is only momentary. While glimpsing what appears to be the fin of shark as she makes her way back to the beach. From this moment Rosina casts a complex shadow, her actions in hurting her sister never fully explored. While her internal anger and boredom shines as brightly as the summer sun. Meanwhile, her father remains unconvinced by the shark she spotted, while equally assured that Rosina needs to work during the long summer break.
Therefore, to keep his daughter from boredom, and possibly trouble, he enlists her energy within his small gardening business. Where a ragtag group of men keep pathways clear, bushes trimmed and pools in working order. And it is here that Rosina meets Joselo (Federico Morosini), a young man only a few years older than her. Who is supplementing his fishing income with manual labour over the summer months.
Rosina is immediately intrigued by Joselo’s every move, as lust and desire mix with adoration and curiosity. Something that does not go unnoticed by Joselo, as he encourages her sexual advance. However, as Joselo’s interest fades and Rosina’s vision of a shark in the waters surrounding the town comes to pass. Her own hunt begins to ensure the shark is protected, and Joselo is ensnared.
It would be easy for The Sharks to spill over into melodrama as Rosina’s behaviour becomes more and more socially disturbing. However, Lucia Garibaldi keeps things delicate, nuanced and vague. The actions of Rosina embedded within a truth of adolescence. That pure hormonal energy can, and does lead young people to strange conclusions when desire casts its shadow. The young human brain often unable to distinguish the fine line between desire, adoration, invasion of privacy and love. Of course these themes are not new within the coming of age genre. With the recent Cherry Tobacco covering similar ground. However, The Sharks ability to dovetail emerging sexuality with an animalistic drive to conquest carries a peculiar bite.
This is mainly due to the gentle, yet powerful performance of newcomer Romina Bentancur. Who manages to portray the innocence, beauty and danger of Rosina with an exquisite sincerity. While leaving the viewer caught in a void of empathy and concern for her actions. Her behaviour languishing between the innocence of childhood and the burgeoning power and destruction of adolescence. As a long hot summer awakens the instincts of two superior predators, one a fish and one an adolescent human.
Director: Lucía Garibaldi