logline - synopsis
Decades after her birth in the depths of the Great Salt Lake to a doomed polygamist girl, an introverted woman with supernatural abilities must decide if she will venture into the world and share her unique powers.
Shrimp follows the life of its titular protagonist, a mysterious larger-than-life woman who was born in The Great Salt Lake, in Utah. Shrimp, at the age of 62, lives with her partner Dan, a kind man with a big mouth. Dan has been fighting a terminal illness for five years now, and Shrimp must care for him with the help of their day nurse, Tom. Dan knows he's nearing the end, but Shrimp doesn't want to consider a future without him. As Dan worries for Shrimp's future, he encourages her to start a new life in Point Reyes California, due to what he has researched on line.
The script flashes back to Shrimp’s origins: a polygamist, Mormon family led the sadistic father-figure Lowell. Lowell keeps a strict watch over his seven wives, and currently favors his newest and youngest bride, Fanny. But not everyone is happy with Lowell's relationship with Fanny, nor Fanny's recent pregnancy. Eliza Mae in particular is against it and secretly convinces young Fanny to drink saltwater from the lake. When the saltwater prematurely causes convulsion, Fanny runs into the lake and gives birth before promptly dying. The baby sinks to the bottom of the lake.
In the present, Tom yells at Shrimp for smoking in front of Dan. Not one to take
someone judging others lightly, Dan fires Tom on the spot. Dan and Shrimp then
meet Tom's replacement, a well-intentioned Mormon named Wanda.
Back in the past, Lowell is furious at Eliza Mae for causing Fanny's death. He beats her within an inch of her life, but she fights back and kills him with a pair of shears. Cold and calculating, Eliza Mae realizes she must make the murder seem more like an act of self-defense. She screams and hollers, acting out an imaginary struggling before her sister wives arrive to find Lowell dead. And as Lowell's first wife, the house and all his property all become Eliza Mae's.
Fast forwarding to the current day, Dan asks Shrimp to make some friends after
he dies so she doesn't have to be alone. While he floats the idea of Wanda, Shrimp
doesn't think it would work. Later, Dan unburdens himself to Wanda telling her of Shrimp’s origins. He even tells Wanda of how the two both came from polygamist families, and how Shrimp survives by drinking the lake's water and eating brine shrimp. But Dan has an episode, and while Shrimp removes some of his pain, they both know he doesn’t have long left.
Moving back into the past, Eliza Mae is now a liberated woman. But after years of bitterness and drinking, she is a mess. Worse, she's haunted by a long-haired wild child, she assumes is a demon, but in actuality, it is Shrimp at 5 years old. Eliza Mae goes outside one day to find that the child had unearthed Fanny's unmarked grave. Offering a shovel to Eliza Mae, the child begs to be buried with her. Eliza Mae obliges. Days later, guilt compels Eliza Mae to dig the grave up. The child still lives, and drags her body to the Great Salt Lake and
disappears. It's not until years later that the girl re-enters Eliza Mae's life - as a
teenage Shrimp. Shrimp demands that Eliza Mae leave her the house.
In the present, Dan and Shrimp prepare for the end. The two sit on the shore of the lake the next day. At Dan's request, Shrimp helps Dan pass. Wanda - horrified that Dan was outside - comes too late, and Dan passes away peacefully. Shrimp later reveals her special powers, and Wanda is left to contemplate her own life on the shore.
Sliding back into the past, Shrimp tries to help an old Eliza Mae pass on as well. Her lucid moments were few and far in between.
In the present, Shrimp and Wanda learn to lean on each other for help. Wanda helps Shrimp morn her loss, and Shrimp helps Wanda discover a new way to enter back into her old life.
Shrimp leaves the house to Wanda and obeys Dan’s wish. She goes to Point Reyes, meets the locals, heals an old sick dog, which causes the townsfolk to greet her with wonder. At the end, we watch Shrimp walk naked into the Pacific Ocean.