Son of the Shark

Director: Agnes Merlet
Screenwriters: Agnes Merlet

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


Voices in the dark, a runaway bus hurtling down the hill toward the cliffs above the sea with two young boys at the wheel . . . with this dramatic scene, Agnès Merlet begins her poetic portrayal of Martin and Simon, two young brothers hell-bent on a spree of energetic vandalism. Caught, separated from each other, shipped off to the reformatory or a foster home, the boys improvise an escape and find one another to renew their adventure and begin the destructive and exasperating cycle all over again.

Woven into what, on the surface, is a simple tale of bad boys on an extended lark is the steady counterpoint of Martin’s fascination with the sea, a metaphorical refuge from the harshness of his life. By flashlight he reads and rereads a book about fish that his mother gave him shortly before she deserted him, learning by heart the lines, “I am the son of a man and woman. If I had my way, I’d rather be the son of a she shark. Then I wouldn’t be so mean.” Featuring stunningly beautiful cinematography that betrays Merlet’s training as a painter, Son of the Shark makes an unforgettable impression.

— Nicole Guillemet

Screening Details

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