Its a rare sight for a film to hold so much originality and purpose. The Shiny Shrimps (2019) will propel you into the world of LGBT+ sport, and a team of water polo players aiming for that big win at the Gay Games, which runs every four years.
Directed by Maxime Govare and Cédric Le Gallo, and based on a real life Shiny Shrimp team, this is a film with a lot of life to it. It begins with Matthias (Nicolas Gob), an Olympic swimmer caught using an offensive homophobic slur on national television, with the backlash, comes a decision. He will coach The Shiny Shrimps to their victory in Croatia for the 2019 Gay Games. Alongside Nicolas Gob, are team players, Alban Lenior, Michaël Abiteboul, David Baïot, Romain Lancry, Roland Menou, Geoffrey Couët, Romain Brau, and Félix Martinez, quite the cast.
Printed as “The worst team in Gay sporting history”, they ultimately don’t seem to care about winning. The basis of the film and the games, revolves around the acceptance and environment that the Gay Games allows for them. Once they win a match that allows them to qualify for the games, they need transportation from Paris to Croatia. This comes in the form of a double decker tour bus that resembles Summer Holiday (1963). In the ultimate road trip, the team travels across Europe stopping at a chateau on the way to practice and party. It sounds messy, and it is. Their dedication is to each other, not the team.
Matthais is not welcomed with open arms into the team. He is strongly opposed by Joel (Roland Menou), its not surprising, his comment was derogatory, but the other team mates see the better side of people, and the support that their team needs comes from an Olympic swimmer, whether they like him or not. Matthais also uses this time to reconnect with his teenage daughter Victoire (Maïa Quesemand), who is in awe of the team.
The honesty of this film stems from the divisions within the team. Contradicting my previous point, as a front, the team are one, but as individuals they are battling age and acceptance. The oldest member and somewhat leader Joel opposes Fred (Romain Brau) entering their team, of whom has come out as Trans. In opposition to the rest of the team once again, he is outvoted and the younger members of the team position themselves as more liberal and accommodating to a new generation of members of the LGBT+ society. The clear movements in different generations is a fresh take to a rights film. It is not something an audience often sees, the decades of LGBT+ rights and celebrations can act as a point of conflict for those that have dealt with the worst of it such as Joel points out to his team.
There is a distinct homage to The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (1994) in the character of Fred. The extravagance and electricity of Fred is a symbol of a new era for LGBT+ communities across the world, and a nod to the sporting world that anyone can be apart of it. Likewise to the funeral scene at the end of the film, a dance act of Bonnie Tyler’s Holding out for a Hero, smashes through the church and brings together two teams of players in solidarity.
The Shiny Shrimps does feature some Gay conventions, but the strength that it adds to the film is what makes it special. This film is not just the story of a white middle class man bettering himself through the use of Gay team mates, it is a whole lot more than that. Its playful and cheerful, full of life. Yet there are very clear moments where it takes a tumble into a raw feature.
In an only criticism, I would have loved to have seen a bolder and more approached soundtrack. There was a gap in place for The Shiny Shrimps to have a magnificent addition to Bonnie Tyler. On the other hand, the tempo of the film is golden. It runs utterly smoothly and protects every last drop of comedy the actors can give, including Ryan Gosling tattooed somewhere painful.
In confidence, I can offer this film as a good laugh, a loving sense of understanding and par a gas station pair of homophobic drivers, it is a purely positive representation of LGBT+ cinema, and that is a rare find.