‘Under Paris’ movie review: A shark tale lost in confusion and plausibility

‘Under Paris’ movie review: A shark tale lost in confusion and plausibility

Paris: Under Paris begins with a pre-title sequence where a group of marine scientists are dangerously close to a man-eating shark. Unsurprisingly, all but one member of the team survives the vicious attack.

The surviving scientist, Sophia (Berenice Bejo), goes on to live far away in Paris with memories of the traumatic incident where she lost her husband. The shark, named Lillith for some reason, finds her way to Sophia once again after conservation activist Mika (Léa Léviant) spots her in the Seine River with a tracker.

From this point, director Gens seems confused about whether the shark must be treated as a monster or pet. This dilemma, which persists for an hour of the film’s runtime, is rather frustrating to watch. By the time the film makes up its mind, it gets hard to root for the protagonist, especially since good old logic seems to take a hit too.

Add to the proceedings a smug mayor (Anne Marivin), who doesn’t want anything hampering the triathlon Olympics in Paris, leaving you wondering how the Parisian cops let a bunch of 20-year-old activists foil their covert operation? It’s possible, sure, but the film needs to sell it. Even as the number of underwater deaths begin mounting, the Parisians are strangely devoid of any panic.

Further narrative issues come in the way of a screwball subplot involving the discovery of active World War II artillery under the Seine. The shark may be kept under wraps, but how is the mayor keeping this a secret? Again, it’s possible, but the film does not attempt whatsoever to convince the audience of the plausibility of the premise.

In such films, the absence of at least one sensible cop really rankles. The cops may not be trained to handle a devastating underwater creature, but surely, they can at least stop themselves and the general public from acting in the silliest of ways. 

The saving grace about this film comes in the form of the fine visuals and some impressive action choreography. The camerawork is noteworthy too, but there’s only so much that technical prowess can do, when a film struggles to create engaging moments, even with elements like World War 2 machinery and a deadly prehistoric creature.

Under Paris

Director: Xavier Gens

Genre: Horror/Action

Platform: Netflix

Language: French

Rating: 1.5/5