Jaws ★★★★

Movie 4 (A Film Starring Animals), Week 26 of ‘Everybody’s A Critic - 52 Week Movie Challenge’

Jaws, though it has been retrospectively demeaned for ushering in Hollywood's era of high-concept, high-speed thrillers, cannot be denied for masterful manner in which it drums up sensationally scarring suspense. While numerous critics have cited the titular shark's absence from the screen until the climax, I cannot write without mentioning how improbably effective it is: accompanied by a chillingly minimalist two-note ostinato, the camera swims underneath the victim's plashing legs. However, Spielberg is smart enough to realize the eventual banality of this visual phrase. Unlike some modern blockbusters, which brim with overt kinetic energy, Jaws unhurriedly develops the leading characters through pithy dialogue and idiosyncratic sequences, such as Quint and Matt's drunken exchange about their assorted scars - and it works! Nevertheless, I do have one nitpick that almost unravels the structural patchwork Spielberg so intricately weaved together: the first time the shark appears onscreen. The payoff I was awaiting eagerly, the conceived coup de grace, was utterly ruined when it was lightly and flippantly thrown into the frame. Good movie, though.

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