AWARD THIS 2023 NOMINEE! What the film community calls experimental cinema, we at Film Threat affectionately call “WTF!” and Cody Clarke’s feature, No Shark, is a unique kind of “WTF.” But does its “F”-ness get in the way?
Chase (Jules Roscoe) is a young woman who is laser-focused on achieving her ultimate demise, which is to be eaten by a shark. The story is told in twelve vignettes, with each chapter featuring Chase sitting on the sand of the beaches of New York City in her bikini. She reflects on her experiences and feelings of sitting on the sand looking for a shark through her inner monologue.
No Shark begins at Coney Island, and the steady stream of the protagonist’s thoughts begins. She first describes the sand as kitty litter and then talks about her hopes of soon being devoured by a shark. Next, Chase reflects on how sharks are close to being humans and how they are unfairly maligned in the media and stories like Jaws. We soon learn that Chase is comfortable living an isolated life, and the beach is the perfect spot to be alone. As other women arrive on the beach, Chase waxes on about the phoniness we wear during idle chit-chat.
Chase then moves on to Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn. She finds it particularly intolerable because it’s a place for families, and no one notices her because everyone is preoccupied with their families. She opines that no one there deserves her. Brighton Beach is full of b*****s. Chase is put off by other women crowding her personal space and finds ways of getting them to go away. She finds Riis Beach particularly nice and meets other women, and before she’s able to make a connection, they leave. Chase feels rejected.
“…a young woman who is laser-focused on achieving her ultimate demise, which is be to eaten by a shark.”
No Shark is an incredibly experimental WTF film. There are two elements to the storytelling. First, visually, the character’s arc is told in what appears to be a video slide show or flipbook of Chase sitting on her towel or looking out into the ocean with shots of minimal action as she interacts with other beachgoers. The other element is the narration, a hybrid of a journal entry (which she despises) and a steady stream of consciousness in voiceover delivered by Roscoe.
No Shark is not for everyone, especially those not prepared for this odd journey. The story itself requires total focus and attention. Chase talks/thinks non-stop with very few breaks. She moves on from topic to topic and observation to observation. The “what” and “why” are answered over time. I know my description is not exactly selling the movie, but writer/director Clarke is brilliant in the way she lays out Chase’s existential dilemma. I’ve seen many WTF films that are too smart for their own good, but Clarke put in the work honing the script into a coherent story buried deep into her lead character’s “ramblings.”
As a movie, there’s a lot open to interpretation. I see Chase as a person who finds comfort in solace and solitude and has a love/hate mentality toward interpersonal relationships. She despises it as much as she craves it. The story does take an interesting twist going into the third act, which wraps up Chase’s story nicely.
As I said, No Shark is not for everyone. I can almost hear the complaining, “It’s just a girl in a bikini droning on and on about nothing.” However, for fans of independent or arthouse cinema, you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you give Cody Clarke’s film a chance.
No Shark is a 2023 Award This! WTF Indie like “What the F**k is This Movie Even?”
"…a coherent story buried deep into her lead character's 'ramblings.'"