Have you ever heard of the Shiny Shrimps? No, it’s not that new dish at your local fancy restaurant, the latest dance move or brand-new fashion trend?
No, it’s the French water-polo team that wanted to go to the Gay Games in Croatia.
Their road to success didn’t go as planned at all due to personal and emotional problems and sadly also due to social prejudices, homophobic hatred and the conservative thoughts of the people in France.
Directors Maxime Govare (“Daddy Cool”, “Ma pire angoisse”) and Cédric Le Gallo (who makes his directional debut) saw the relevance of their story and decided to turn it into “The Shiny Shrimps” (original title: “Les crevettes pailletées”), a quirky, uplifting, open, emotional film that teaches us some socially important lessons.
Meet Jean (Alban Lenoir), Cédric (Michaël Abiteboul), Alex (David Baïot), Damien (Romain Lancry), Joël (Roland Menou), Xavier (Geoffrey Couët), Fred (Romain Brau), Vincent (Félix Martinez) and Bertrand (Pierre Samuel).
Nine gay friends living in Paris and all part of the water-polo team called The Shiny Shrimps. While the team is all about acceptance, being yourself and equality, the French (sport) society is certainly not that open.
After making a homophobic comment to a journalist, the Olympic champion Matthias Le Goff (Nicolas Gob) is forced to coach The Shiny Shrimps. The ambition: Qualifying them for the Gay Games in Croatia.
At first, Matthias lets his homophobic and selfish thoughts take the better of him, especially after noticing that The Shiny Shrimps are real amateurs.
He just does the bare minimum to make them and the press believe that he’s on his way to rehabilitation. However, once he gets to know the team, their problems, their dreams but most importantly their love for the sport and each other, his mindset changes completely.
After being resilient to take him on board as their new coach, the Shiny Shrimps are accepting Matthias. Will the passion for water-polo bring together the coach and his team and make sure that they qualify or will the different visions on life, love and being gay stand in the way of their goal?
To become professional water-polo players, the cast of this film followed the real Shiny Shrimps for six months.
The intensive training, the personal one-on-one and the exclusive look in their lives paid off very well as the cast shows us what they’re really made of.
Just as in any group of friends, you have the baby Shiny Shrimp as well as the “daddy” of the team. In this case, it’s Félix Martinez (“Timing”, “Séance”) as the incredibly shy, lovingly but also the naïve rookie Vincent, and Roland Menou (“Épouse-moi mon pote”, “Serial (Bad) Weddings”) as Joël, the more conservative, grumpy, bitter but also likeable Shiny Shrimp.
Whenever his “sons” are having troubles, he’s always there for them. No matter what team-sport it is (volleyball, football, rugby, etc.), there’s always the team captain who’s, alongside the coach, doing everything he can to cheer up his team and to motivate them.
Well, Alban Lenoir (“Taken”, “The Expatriate”) brings that role emotional and gripping to the screen as Jean who’s copping with inner problems but who also puts on a strong face for his wonderful team and for the love of the sport.
The more gracious Shiny Shrimp is without a doubt the very charismatic, flamboyant and dazzling Fred, played by the wonderful Romain Brau (“Mise à nu”, “Where Horses Go to Die”).
Of course, there’s also Nicolas Gob (“Un village français”, “Merci, les enfants vont bien!”) as Le Goff and we can feel the hatred, doubts, and determination through the screen.
However, every cast member deserves all the praise he or she can get as they all put on a stunning, moving and honest on-screen portrayal.
Life isn’t always easy and certainly not when you have to battle against all the preconceptions of the people. However, directors Maxime Govare and Cédric Le Gallo want to tackle on those dark and insecure moments by making the most vibrant, colourful and lively film they could ever make.
Whether it’s by using the very fashionable swimsuits, the glamorous outfits or that flashy team bus that takes the Scrimps everywhere they need to be, it all creates a happy, joyful and moving atmosphere.
The music is also a big part of “The Shiny Shrimps”. Not only for the very flashy dance routine (which you will probably know how to do by the end of the film) but also as the soundtrack of this film. Songs from Sabrina (“Boys”), Bonnie Tyler (“I Need a Hero”) and Celine Dion (“Sous le vent”) are giving the film an even more elevating and feelgood vibe.
During the introduction of the film, director Le Gallo mentioned that he had never any gay role models while growing up and that he wished he could have had someone to look up to.
Well, surely this film is something he, his team and the audience can look up to. “The Shiny Shrimps” is a visually gorgeous, musically uplifting and delightfully performed film that teaches us important lessons about love, friendship, determination, acceptance, and forgiveness. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in sport or not!