Jaws

Jaws ★★★★

It's always hard to watch a movie that's been so celebrated and is so influential and try and view it with a fresh critical eye. Jaws started the summer blockbuster movement, changed the path of cinema and arguably was the middle point in the 70's between the new auteur driven cinema that first developed at the end of the 60's and the studio controlled blockbuster which became commonplace in the 80's. All my life, I've heard people talk about Jaws, so it's going to be difficult to view it while not being corrupted by what I've heard.

And despite all of that, I'm somewhat surprised at how good it actually is. The craft on display from Spielberg and the production team here is sublime. Long takes, dolly zooms, reaction shots, the score, the cinematography, there's no element of the production not at the top of its game. The score is always going to be the most famous aspect of this movie, but there's so much else here that feels iconic. The "you're gonna need a bigger boat line", the reaction shot of Scheider sitting on the beach seeing the fin, and Robert Shaw's speech about being on the USS Indianapolis. Of course, I already knew of these moments which is probably why I think they feel iconic, but there's no denying that each of those are simply amazing moments.

Scheider is an actor I've come to like more and more the more I've seen of him. He may not be the greatest or the most charismatic actor in the world, but he has an effortless simplicity to his style and a natural air that really makes his characters feel authentic. He's wonderful here and really makes much of the second half of the movie work as well as it does. He's the fish out of water (ha) on the boat with two much more experienced seamen, and the fear and tension he's able to get across with his reactions makes it all function together. Shaw and Dreyfuss are great too, but there's no denying that Scheider is the best here.

Liked it a lot more than I expected, a masterclass in creating tension and using the audience's imagination to make the creature more frightening that it should be.

Jason liked this review