Under Paris (2024)

Rated 15
Spoiler Free

A film about a shark in the Seine? Yes please, I thought. Shortly followed by all the logical things one should ask such as why, how and is the Seine really a swimming hotspot? I’m a Londoner and the only people who swim in the Thames are dead people, and some of those are only dead because they swam in the Thames. In its defence, the Thames is a great way to dissolve a troublesome murder victim what with all the chemicals.

Opening with the mako-cre of a team of aqua-boffs, some seriously sexy scientists, Under Paris is at once kinda good to look at and every bit the kind of idiotic crap I was expecting. As a shark geek, I did wonder how aggressive Makos actually are, because they aren’t famous for being bastards from what I recall. Bull sharks though, Bull sharks are arseholes, and they’re everywhere. The wasps of the sea.

Under Paris really tries to sell its science early on, which I suppose is what it should do. The lone surviving marine biologist Sophia (Bérénice Bejo) teams up with increasingly annoying  ecowarriors after they spot a shark mako-ing its way up the apparently sewage free river. 

Once the shark hits Paris, our hero and the Goddamn nature hippies try to convince people they’re gonna get eaten; it’s all silly, very silly. As if it wasn’t to begin with. Harking back to Les Dents de la Mer, there’s even a “don’t shut the beaches” almost direct quote. Only the Seine doesn’t have beaches, it has a very lax attitude to putting railings by deep, fast flowing water apparently.

I would rather watch a film which hasn’t been made in the English language with subtitles than dubbed. Dubbed is so bad I think even the deaf would notice how odd it is. Ironically, the mandatory Netflix subtitle option is for the audibly challenged, which is fucking weird for someone like me whose brain doesn’t shut up. Watching Under Paris I went for a mental wander (which is fine because the film wasn’t exactly bursting my brain cells) thanks to the captions.

Serious question, if you’ve been deaf your whole life how do you know the difference between “solemn music” and “calm, mysterious music”? Or even what either is in the first place. I assume/hope there’s been a deaf community representative on the subtitle committee but as an ignoramus it did baffle me. Some of the other cues aren’t any more helpful, I think, or thought. Please enlighten, but don’t cancel me, genuinely.

Under Paris does know what it is, and that is hugely in its favour, as with any film of this kind. As the kills and stupidity rack up there’s some good laughs and more importantly, Parisian pistris puncturing*. Director Xavier Gens does know how to make bonkers cinema, and this is certainly that even though it's on your telly. Boasting some fin moments, and well shot shark-insanity with decent kills, Under Paris also exits on a well constructed, unexpected "oooh" moment.

Bedsit it?

All shark films are just footnotes to Jaws. Fact.  Under Paris does what it should, adds a few surprises and I very much enjoyed the ending. 6/10
*Yes I struggled with the alliteration on that one.

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