From Guillermo Del Toro, visionary director of such films as Hellboy and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, comes the 2018 Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get a little turned on but be confused by it, and you’ll wonder what the hell you just watched.
Elisa (Sally Hawkins) plays a deaf janitor. She has a routine, a system that she follows every day. A normalcy that clearly hides the stress and grief within. The rigmarole is thrown out of whack when the government agency she works at brings in a mysterious creature they captured in the Amazon. Because she always feels like the “other” in her world, she is immediately drawn to the poor creature’s plight. When the government decides to kill it and dissect it, Elisa knows she can’t let that happen.
It took me a long time to figure out just what The Shape of Water is. Longer than it should have. Once I figured it out, I knew exactly why it won Best Picture. You see, it’s an ode to to the Hollywood of yore. It’s secretly a film about the love of film. Or not so secretly. When Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones do a black and white musical number in a dream sequence, it becomes kind of obvious.
This is not to say that the film isn’t beautiful. Told in Del Toro’s signature fairy tale style, The Shape of Water is stunningly shot. The cinematography is to die for. The dialogue is very good. Sally Hawkins is absolutely amazing and the rest of the cast is also fantastic. It’s a great film.
But it is about a woman fucking a fishman because she is lonely. Fulfilling a dream inspired by her daily ritual of furiously masturbating in the bathtub while her eggs boil (is that a metaphor?). It comes down to this: I don’t want to watch it again. I enjoyed it. It’s a good film. But I have zero desire to see again. You know which movie, directed by Del Toro, told in a fairy tale style, I do want to see again? Pan’s Labyrinth. Now that is an amazing film. Seriously, go watch it. If you liked Shape of Water and don’t like Pan’s Labyrinth you are dead to me.
Best picture? Maybe. Bold choice? Not really. Not the boldest. Hollywood always picks movies that are about the love of movies. I’m definitely being more harsh on the film because it won than if it hadn’t. Also, Octavia Spencer needs to stop being given roles that are clearly written solely for Octavia Spencer. It’s like the writer just wrote “inset sassy black character here” and called it a day.
3 out of 4 stars.