- Director: Guillermo del Toro
- Writer: Guillermo del Toro; Vanessa Taylor
- Producer: J. Miles Dale; Guillermo del Toro
Amelie/Beauty & the Beast/Splash [all] have a head-on collision with the Creature from the Black Lagoon...and, it ain't pretty.
Although, for sure, the film looks fantastic...but, that fantastical mind of Guillermo del Toro's kinda went into overdrive and flew off the rails...landing the film (and himself) neck-deep in a metaphorical swamp of unadulterated nonsense.
For sure, the film looks fantastic...be positive, it's won a gazillion awards!!!
If you can get your head around a mute, manic-masturbatory cleaner who has unrestricted access to a Government top-secret facility...who bonks a fish-like-man (or, is it a man-like-fish?) while caring for her [predatory] gay next door neighbour...if, by some miracle, you can...then, praise be, this film is right up your alley!
For sure, the film looks fantastic...but, that song-and-dance scene! That fish-suit! The water-tight water-closet! His willy!
And, who washes their hands before they pee and not after!?!
Look...suspending disbelief is really a rather easy ask...however, with this film, Mr del Toro asks (or, presumes) too much...with all the blatant metaphors bobbing around, this is one creek you don't want to find yourself in...without a paddle!
Still, there are many voices claiming this to be his finest work...obviously, they haven't seen Pan's Labyrinth!!!
Drawing on classic 1950s sci-fi B-movies and the on-going fascination with Area 51 conspiracy theories, Guillermo del Toro’s sprightliest tale of the inexplicable is an old-school cinematic joy. At the height of the Cold War, in a secret US laboratory, a young, mute woman begins to communicate with a strange, aquatic creature. Elisa (Sally Hawkins), whose only friends are her gay artist neighbour (Richard Jenkins) and a fellow cleaner (Octavia Spencer), is alarmed by the behaviour of research head Strickland (a deliciously cruel Michael Shannon), who sees the creature as nothing more than an oversized lab rat.
A fellow scientist (Michael Stuhlbarg) of dubious connections is decidedly more curious, especially when he sees a bond forming between Elisa and the creature. Intertwining sci-fi, horror and gothic romance to spellbinding effect, del Toro’s singular vision is enhanced by Dan Laustsen’s (Crimson Peak) vivid cinematography and Alexandre Desplat’s hypnotic score, which runs the gamut from high-wire thrills to the stirringly romantic. Hawkins, always the most empathetic of actors, is a marvel and she ensures that Elisa’s fierce desire to fight for what’s right never eclipses her sense of innocence. Love takes many shape-shifting forms and this intoxicating film is a pure celebration of tolerance and human connection.
Spoilers contained herein...
Romantic fantasy film The Shape of Water tells the story of a mute woman, Elisa, who works in a government lab in the early 1960s, and ends up falling in love with a mysterious sea creature who is being held there for testing. Her neighbor and close friend, Giles, decides to help Elisa on her quest to free the creature from the lab. Giles is a gay, out-of-work artist, whose only real friend is Elisa. Midway through the film, he unsuccessfully hits on a young man working at a pie shop, who immediately recoils. The man’s reaction is paired with his racist commentary towards a Black customer, and further illustrates to the audience how loathsome the waiter really is once he is not putting on his work façade.
Giles is a central character in the film – serving as the narrator in addition to his own story - and his plot feeds into the film’s themes of outcasts banding together. As so many films continue to leave LGBTQ stories relegated to subtext, it is worth celebrating that Giles was able to be out on screen and a point of entry for the audience who were called on to relate to the story of an older, gay man. The Shape of Water was an immense critical success, garnering four Oscars, including the coveted Best Picture. It was also a GLAAD Media Award nominee for Outstanding Film – Wide Release.
Indeed...horrible little straight man! There's nothing wrong with a woman bonking a fish!!! Presumably, we'll be adding an extra 'B' to the LGBT... alphabet, for Bestials!