Trailer of ‘The Shape of Water’
Property of: FoxSearchlight
So, basically, I love ‘The Shape of Water’. It is truly a film that captures the viewer and remains beautiful and mesmerising throughout. I have previously briefly talked about this movie before; in my Movies by the Numbers: 2017 list, but I like this film so much that I thought it deserved its own individual review. Also, owing to the fact that this film earned the Oscar for Best Picture along with three others I really wanted to pitch my two cents in.
You see, I do not typically follow the Oscars as I find that I do not really like most pictures that end up winning (case in point ‘Gravity’). I was actually surprised to see that ‘The shape of Water’ won the Oscar for best picture. This is not because I don’t think it deserves it but because I fully thought ‘Get Out’ would win. I won’t get into my reasons at this point in time.
The Synopsis of the Film
So basically Rotten Tomatoes describes it as:
“From master story teller, Guillermo del Toro, comes THE SHAPE OF WATER – an other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones and Michael Stuhlbarg.”
A little more of a detailed plot synopsis (spoiler-free) is:
This is a surreal and an entrancing adult fairytale. A mix between sci-fi and fantasy, this film immerses you in a foreign universe that does not feel like America but rather a far off foreign land. This film is about a mute woman named Elisa who works as a cleaning lady at a secret government facility in America during the Cold War. Elisa is lonely, yet sweet and kind-hearted woman, who is friends with her neighbor. One day, the facility receives a new specimen, one that Eliza cannot help but be fascinated by. She soon stealthily forms a friendship with the strange amphibian like creature.
The Good Points of the Movie
This is a movie that felt surreal in the truest sense of the word. When I watched I felt like I was watching a foreign language film. The film’s atmosphere reminded me of several French films I have seen most especially ‘Amelie’. It is a strange blend of sci-fi and fantasy, to the point where it feels entirely dreamlike. I found myself hooked into this film from the very beginning to the last breathless second.
This is one those rare films that can make you laugh and cry in turns. It makes you feel the joy, hope and fear of the characters. The film is so good at this that I totally supported the bizarre relationship of Elisa and her fishy lover (sorry, I couldn’t help it bad puns are a weakness of mine- sheepish grin). The lead actress is a mute, yet I can totally feel every one of her emotions and understand her easily. The relationship between Elisa and the Sea Creature also takes place in total silence, yet you don’t feel as if anything is missing.
Another thing I liked about this film was the fact that it made me detest the villain quite thoroughly. I was in turns scared, disgusted and enraged at the villain, who in ordinary circumstances would be a good guy; a military hero. This is a mark of a well-written antagonist and truly one of the most important aspects of story-telling. Guillermo Del Torro nailed it with this one.
The Supporting Cast
In fact even the supporting cast in this film had surprisingly rich and detailed backstories and characterization. The supporting actors acted really well and fit their roles to a T. They manage to fulfill their plot roles and also make me give a damn about them, to the point where I was genuinely invested in their fates. This is rare for movies nowadays and just another thing this movie got right.
In fact when talking about the acting in this film, it was completely above board for almost every character. I felt convinced by the roles played and invested in the character’s future. I especially have to highlight the acting of our protagonist and antagonist, they both really sold me on their roles.
The beauty of this story is that it manages to tell a brilliant story while simultaneously addressing a ton of serious issues in a tasteful and thought provoking manner. This a point on which lesser films often slip up and feel ham-fisted or underserved, yet in ‘The shape of Water’ it feels totally natural. The film addresses such serious societal issues such as racism, sexism, homosexuality, superiority of mankind over other sentient creatures, the morality of human experimentation etc.
Each issue is addressed, yet Del Torro does not make the mistake of overtly stating his viewpoints, rather leaving hints and relying on the viewer’s intelligence. In this way the issues do not overshadow the story, and it is truly refreshing not to be spoon-fed a moral message for once. Whether or not you agree with the film’s stance on these issues, you will not feel annoyed. I for one do not agree with everything, but that is yet another thing we won’t be getting into.
Reflecting on the Bad Parts
Okay, to quote one of my favourite satires “No film is without sin”. Though I loved the movie a lot it still has a few plot holes and iffy bits. These were the things that for me, took away from the story, or they bothered me.
First of all though I was intrigued by Elisa’s backstory, yet it still left a lot of questions in my mind, especially due to the ending. It ended up bugging me for days after the fact (though that may have been the point). Anyway, her backstory is one thing that reeks of plot convenience, which I can ignore, but it is not a good thing.
Another aspect of the movie that bugged me was the Russians. Their dialogue was not subtitled so I was truly lost as to what was happening at those points. While I was able to understand the gist of it; still, it was annoying.
Also the graphic nature of the film blindsided me a bit as I felt a little uncomfortable with the physical side of the lead’s relationship. I admit that this may not be a flaw for some people, but I felt that it had to be addressed, if only to warn the people who have similar reservations. This film is definitely not one for the kids.
Lastly, the ending of the film; though I was overjoyed by it, it still felt a bit like a cop-out, using a Dues Ex machina to save the heroes. I do not know if other people will agree with me but that is what it seemed like to me. Can’t say more without spoilers.
Despite my rather minor complaints, overall the film was an absolutely wonderful experience. ‘The shape of Water’ is one those films I will remember with fondness. I absolutely recommend it to everyone.
I rate this film a solid 9/10.
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