The Shiny Shrimps
Stars: Nicolas Gob, Alban Lenoir, Geoffrey Couët, Roland Menou, Romain Brau
This very broad comedy about a gay water polo team hoping to make a splash at the Gay Olympics in Croatia was a surprise smash in France. Belgian actor Gob is Matthias, a French champion swimmer who, after making homophobic remarks to a TV interviewer after a disappointing performance, is pressganged by his PR people into managing the titular team in order to salvage his reputation. The Shrimps include leader and restaurant owner Jean (Lenoir), carefree party boy Xavier (Couët), and Joël (Menou), a grumpy older activist who is resentful of the younger carefree players who fail to acknowledge that life was not always as easy for gay people. Joël also queries the right of Fred (Brau), a transsexual woman to be on the team. The writers only skirt the genuine interesting dialectic between these disparate characters in a glossy yarn that feels like a Gallic take on the noughties’ underdog Britfilm, replete with bittersweet laughs and musical montages, with a nod to ‘Pricilla Queen of the Desert’ in its road movie middle passage. Gob brings a welcome conviction as the champion turned trainer (ex-swimming pro Jason Statham would be a shoe-in for an English language remake). The relentless insistence that this is all crazy wacky fun is a little wearing, but at least the depiction of gay sexuality is refreshingly free of coyness.