Saturday, February 24, 2024

Shark teeth, review: a debut that bites

Shark teeth, review: a debut that bites

The review of Shark Teeth, Davide Gentile’s directorial debut: a sentimental education, rather than a criminal one, set on the Roman coast. In the cast Edoardo Pesce, Virginia Raffaele and Claudio Santamaria. In theaters from June 8th.

Shark teeth, review: a debut that bites

Western cinema of the last ten years has been increasingly trying to face the repressed of our society. Women, homosexuality, representation: these themes, long confined to independent and non-consumerable films, are increasingly capturing the attention of mainstream authors and films. The last great removed that the film industry seems to have noticed is the figure of the father. If before, very often, stories took it for granted that the father figure was absent or negative, today we try to make peace with this presence/absence. If even the Star Wars saga has put a patch on the character of Darth Vader – balancing the balance of the Force – with Mando’s in the series The Mandalorian, we are really ready and mature to rewrite fatherhood in cinema. There review by Shark teethdebut of David Gentilestarts from here: from the awareness that, most likely, a few years ago this would have been “a criminal education” as we have already seen many, however, today, it is an interesting sentimental education.

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Shark Teeth: a frame from the film

In theaters from June 8th, Shark teeth tells the story of Walter (Tiziano Menichelli, another newcomer), a thirteen-year-old who has just lost his father in a tragic accident. The mother, Rita (Virginia Raphael), does not know how to deal with mourning and at the same time take care of his son, to whom he shows his affection above all through food. Ricotta tarts, lasagna: the classic “did you eat” as the purest form of manifestation of maternal love.

Walter, however, is restless, not only for the sudden lack that has manifested itself in his life. Father Anthony (Claudius Santamaria) was a criminal, but had decided to change his life and died to save the life of a colleague. “More than a hero, a cojone” he says to his friend Carlo (Stefano Rosci), met in the villa of the Corsair (Edward Fish), boss who loves pirates and keeps a giant shark in the pool. Walter is hard, with others and with himself, but he can’t stop thinking about that shark: he visits it every day, he feeds it. And he begins to think about how to free him.

Jaws: from Spielberg to Bennato

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Shark Teeth: A scene from the movie

Bringing a film in which one of the protagonists is a shark to the cinema isn’t easy: firstly because, if you want to show it, it has to be credible. Secondly, because a certain Steven Spielberg made him an icon and a cinematic archetype with one of his most famous films. The challenge of Davide Gentile (and of Gabriel Mainetti which he produces with his Gone Movies with Lucky Red) is however won: not only do we believe that the animal is real when we see it, but also thanks to the screenplay by Valerio Cilio and Gianluca Leonciniwinner of the Solinas award, takes on a new and interesting meaning.

Christian 2, Edoardo Pesce: “The meaning of life is in the tressette in front of a carbonara”

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Shark Teeth: A still from the film

The monstrous has always been a symbol of our fears, but here the shark also becomes something else: it is an omen, an image from the future. The corsair tells Walter that “a shark that’s no longer scary has finished being a shark”: and the boy knows it, he wonders about the whole summer that we see him spend on the Roman coast (a mix between Ostia, Fiumicino, Tor San Lorenzo and Ardea) on this. The father acted like a shark, but in the end he no longer wanted to be: a sign of weakness or strength? Walter documented himself: the shark is also one of the living beings that suffers the most in captivity. And living pretending to be what you are not becomes the greatest prison of all. So perhaps it is true that “life is for those with teeth”, as the Corsair always says, but living it according to one’s nature, remaining true to oneself is the greatest challenge. Especially if you live in the suburbs, you no longer have references and everything around you seems to tell you that you will never make it.

Shark Teeth ends with the song When you’ll grow up. Edward Bennato sings: “The void and then You wake up and there’s A whole world Around you / When you grow up Then you’ll know everything”. Becoming an adult is a mystery, which often has nothing to do with age. The corsair is actually like a child, who loves pirates and hits those who disagree with him with wooden clogs (a touch of class, which identifies a world and an era as few things were like the 1960s). 80/90 of the Roman coast), while Walter is a child, but in his eyes he has all the wisdom of the world. Growing up is not being afraid of “our shark” and trying to kill it, but embracing it, accepting it and letting it go.


As written in the review of Denti da squalo, Davide Gentile’s exodus, well written, directed and performed, convinces. Walter’s hot summer on the Roman coast in the 1990s, a 13-year-old boy who has recently lost his father, is a journey of self-discovery through the elaboration of mourning. However, we are not dealing with a classic “criminal education”, but with a real “sentimental education” through gender.

Because we like it

  • The interpretation of newcomer Tiziano Menichelli.
  • The good intuition of not making yet another film centered above all on the criminal aspect of the story.
  • The fundamental contributions of Virginia Raffaele, Edoardo Pesce and Claudio Santamaria.
  • The special and visual effects by Maurizio Corridori, Fabio and Daniele Tomassetti.
  • The music by Michele Braga and Gabriele Mainetti.

What’s wrong

  • The story isn’t the most original, it’s true: but it’s all about how it’s told.