Unabashedly Loud and Eye-catching, THE SHINY SHRIMPS is a Feel-Good Movie that Promises Hearty Laughs5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
Matthias Le Goff, an Olympic champion at the end of his career, makes a homophobic statement on TV. His punishment: coach the Shiny Shrimps, a flamboyant and amateur gay water-polo team. They have only one thing in mind: to qualify for the Gay Games in Croatia where the hottest international LGBT athletes compete. It’s the start of a bumpy and joyful ride – Faster, Higher, Stronger.
Director: Cédric Le Gallo, Maxime Govare
Cast: Nicolas Gob, Alban Lenoir, Michaël Abiteboul
Runtime: 100 minutes
“A group of hot guys touring Europe in a bus. Something’s bound to happen!” the newest member of the all-gay French water-polo team exclaims excitedly. And that is exactly what The Shiny Shrimps seeks to deliver.
The Shiny Shrimps (2019) is based on co-director Cédric Le Gallo’s real experiences with a real water-polo team in France. For Gallo, while the story in The Shiny Shrimps is completely fictional, the jokes and camaraderie of the real team and the fictional team are kept the same. In the film, renowned swimmer Matthias Le Goff (Nicolas Gob) finds his career at stake after huffing a homophobic slur while live on national television. For his televised faux pas, the French Swimming Federation assigns Matthias to coach a gay water polo team that has not been performing well. With the upcoming Gay Games and Matthias’ own swimming championships, Matthias has to put aside his own prejudices to train the team – the cheeky and flamboyant Shiny Shrimps.
The Shiny Shrimps is a mindless comedy that promises fun-filled adventures coupled with outlandish personalities. The raucous behaviour and crude jokes of the endearing members ensures that the movie is without a dull moment. Even in the face of adversity and discrimination, the easy and believable camaraderie amongst the actors invites the audience to join the tight-knitted group, and experience their love and acceptance.
The story The Shiny Shrimps tells is easy and uncomplicated, choosing to focus more on the characters’ interactions and their wild antics. Though that means that the movie can get pretty predictable. From every significant victory and failure to Matthias’ doe-eyed daughter who serves as a bridge between the team and her stubborn father, you’ll most likely be able to figure out how everything works out before it does. But then again, that’s not the point of the movie. Did I see the ending coming? Yes, I did. Did I still feel moved by it? Yes, most definitely.
Much credit should also be given to Alban Lenoir for playing the team captain, Jean, who brings the team together and keeps them together. Returning to the team for the Gay Games after a vague medical crisis, Jean has a secret that he must not tell, and Lenoir manages to give his character nuance in his anguish and determination. Maybe he’s the typical go-getter team leader, the streetwise Hercules who fights the rising odds. But in Jean’s live-life spirit and the double innuendo his words carry, Lenoir adeptly balances his character’s free-spiritedness and pain.
Water polo is a hard sport to narrate, with many things going on in splashes of water. Cinematographer Jérôme Alméras handles the challenge almost effortlessly, capturing the trained choreography with much detail while ensuring that the fast-paced action of the game is not lost. Playing with multiple angles, The Shiny Shrimps not only pays homage to the setting of the swimming pool with gorgeous scenic shots but also captures the eventful games in their entirety such that you find yourself rooted right in the midst of all the fun.
Many critics found fault with the movie feeding the stereotypes of flamboyant gay men. However, in all the raunchy jokes and frivolous pranks, Gallo explains that he is trying to capture the real Shiny Shrimps as he knows them, real men who are as loveable as they are naughty. And the movie The Shiny Shrimps definitely gives just that taste for anyone who wants to engage in it.
About French Film Festival
Back for its 35th edition, the French Film Festival returns as part of Voilah! France Singapore Festival, with an exciting lineup of 27 latest feature films and classics from 4 to 17 November 2019. The annual festival – the longest-running foreign film festival in Singapore – celebrates French storytelling through various genres including comedy, romance, drama and a newly introduced sexy section that will be sure to delight and captivate the audience.
Opening the festival this year is Made in China, screening on 5 November, 7pm, at the Alliance Française. Frédéric Chau, who portrays François in the film, will be making an appearance at the launch of the festival alongside his co-star, Steve Tran, who plays his cousin in the movie.
For more information, check out its official website here. (https://www.voilah.sg/french-film-festival-2019/)