During its brief US tour, this debut feature from Agnes Merletwon was compared to THE 400 BLOWS for its naturalistic depiction of juvenile delinquents. But Francois Truffaut's trouble-prone hero came across as a decent, likeable kid who has had some bad breaks. The protagonists in SON OF
A SHARK, by contrast, are two feral children for whom it is nearly impossible to feel any compassion.
Whenever theft or vandalism occurs in the small seaside village of Lignon, odds are that adolescent Martin Vanderhoes (Ludovic Vandendaele) and his younger brother Simon (Erick Da Silva) are the culprits. Their mother walked out on them, and their father, a docile drunkard, barely rates their
attention, as the siblings regularly run away from foster homes and reform school to commit more mayhem. They steal a school bus, drive it over a cliff near the beach, and dwell in the wreck until tides flood it. They embark on a vandalism spree (which is all the more disturbing for the childishly
innocent fun the pair have). And they stick together with genuine filial love and utmost loyalty, until Martin starts spending time with Marie (Sandrine Blancke), a pretty schoolgirl. Simon is jealous of the interloper and the civlizing influence she tries to exert over the older boy. Eventually
Simon, wielding a weapon, forces the terrified Marie to strip naked on the beach in front of Martin, making both an offering and a challenge of her. In a climax that brilliantly blends pathos and cruelty, Martin makes his choice to leave town with his brother.
The title derives from the boys' regular visits to the docks, where they seem to feel sorry for the fishermen's harvest of decapitated fish heads that lie twitching and gasping. In voice-over diary entries, Martin likens himself to a shark, though the context suggests a victim as much as a
predator. A disappointingly noncommittal ending shows the duo literally fading away, with the suggestion that they have gone to sea. Reportedly based on actual incidents, SON OF A SHARK has no solutions for its problem children other than basic survival, the key to which is how the brothers stick
together. Their bond humanizes these young incorrigibles, however fleetingly. (Violence, sexual situations, adult situations, nudity, substance abuse, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1993
- Rating: NR
- Review: During its brief US tour, this debut feature from Agnes Merletwon was compared to THE 400 BLOWS for its naturalistic depiction of juvenile delinquents. But Francois Truffaut's trouble-prone hero came across as a decent, likeable kid who has had some bad br… (more)