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Finhead bait found Under Paris

Every summer arrives with promise of yet another shark movie—a weakness of mine—so imagine my excitement at seeing a poster featuring one of my favorite travel destinations with a huge fin scaling its waters. Under Paris the poster reads…okay, but as a travel enthusiast who adores trip preparation by avidly reading the “Threats and Dangers” sections of guidebooks, I never really worried about shark attacks in the Seine.  Pollution, yes—I once got a vibrio virus from the region’s shrimp.  Plus crime—someone pickpocketed my husband’s cell phone near the Seine a few months ago.  But sharks?  Well, ever since Jaws made sharks a summer tradition, movie makers look for alternate human bait with gimmicks like putting the fish in unexpected places.  These include Lake Tahoe—yes, 2015’s Shark Lake filmed up there, without much success.  So Paris fits the mold, except co-writing with a team, director Xavier Gens makes a good-looking film with quality special effects and appealing actors headed by Bérénice Bejo, an Oscar nominee years ago for best-picture winner The Artist. Quick cuts and fast pacing move the story along, never quite overcoming its improbability but nonetheless providing mindless entertainment for finheads and Francophiles. Gens shoots primarily along the Seine, capturing the river’s bridges and icons alluringly enough to inspire yet another visit. His shark action moves smoothly with CGI streamlining, and while water frequently turns red, the project avoids totally tacky gorefest qualities. Under Paris also comes with a message—we people should be more worried about the garbage we put in oceans.  Not a new thought, but it leads to more sympathy for sharks than Jaws provided.  Still, despite respectable elements, Under Paris fails to match the cinematic bite of Jaws.

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