MFF 2019: The Sharks – movie review

The Sharks. Image credit: Courtesy of IMDb

For the first time, I’ve been granted press accreditation for the Milano Film Festival – which is becoming one of the most prestigious European film festivals. With a selection of 27 feature-length films and over 41 short movies, the main theme of this year’s MFF is “coming-of-age” stories, told in every kind of genre you can think of: on this website, you’ll find reviews of every horror-related film at the festival, plus a few articles on other movies that you’ll find in the Beyond Horror section of the website. This is my review of The Sharks (Lucia Garibaldi, Uruguay/Argentina, drama; original title: Los Tiburones).

In this edition of the MFF, where the main thread was coming-of-age stories, The Sharks is the film that best embodied what this year’s Milano Film Festival was going for. In fact, it’s no surprise that Lucia Garibaldi’s first feature won the Best Feature Film International Award. Congratulations!

The Sharks was, also, the most popular and renowned picture at the festival, since it already won prestigious awards in South America and the director was awarded Best Dramatic Director at Sundance Film Festival.

This film from Uruguay, a country with a mild and inactive cinema industry, follows Rosina, a fifteen-year-old girl who comes from a very poor family. After injuring her older sister by mistake, Rosina is forced to help her father in his daily job as gardener: here, she meets Joselo, an older man who she falls for, as she’s experiencing sexual awakening. While Rosina’s first desires appear, the sighting of a sea lion carcass gives way, in the small village where the girl and her family live, to a collective psychosis that involves the national media as well.

Continue reading and check my final grade below… 

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My review is also available on IMDb – The Sharks (2019)

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Seeing all the awards and critical recognition The Sharks had received so far, you might expect a ground-breaking film that does things no other movie had tried before. That’s not the case. This picture tells a very mundane story and doesn’t rely on astonishing visuals. Why is it so beloved, then? Well, I think it’s because The Sharks is a very genuine, subtle and poignant film.

This movie approaches its subject matter from a neo-realistic kind of standpoint. Just like the Italian neo-realism in the late 50s, the French nouvelle vague in the 60s and the British “kitchen-sink” dramas of the 70s, The Sharks explores the conditions of everyday life, including poverty, frustration, injustice, and monotony. On top of that, the film adds a very modern element of coming-of-age drama, which is depicted in a delicate, almost unnoticeable way.

What really delivers in terms of story and real-life situation, though, it’s the acting. Romina Bentancur as Rosina is nothing short than phenomenal in the movie, so I’m very glad she brought home the Best Actress N.A.E. Award: I had the pleasure to meet this young woman, and she’s truly humble and contagiously energetic. Rosina is a character you don’t necessarily like (in fact, my main issue with the film is that the protagonist is often unlikeable), but you can understand where she’s coming from due to the subtlety in her actions and mannerism. Everyone else in the movie doesn’t feel like an actor, as the performances are mind-blowingly genuine and hyper-realistic.

The events (or lack thereof) in the film are experienced through the perspective of a girl who’s going through changes in her life, but who’s also very young, therefore her priorities are different, what she considers to be life-changing events are just trivial for most of us. It’s a very interesting way to tackle a film, even though the viewing experience isn’t really enjoyable or entertaining in the traditional sense.

Although The Sharks didn’t particularly click with me, I can understand why it’s held in such high regard: it’s technically perfect, completely different from most coming-of-age movies and very well-acted. I’d be willing to watch the film again in the future, hoping to love it more; in the meantime, if what you read sounds good to you, make sure to check the movie out whenever you get the chance.

The Sharks                                        7/10

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