The Shape of Water (2017, Guillermo del Toro)
I had not planned to see it, at least not in theatres, but I was in the company of somebody who desperately wanted to see it before it would get all those Oscars, so I decided to give it a try. What shall I say? It was a bit better than I had expected, but like most of this director’s work, it didn’t do much for me.
Most of you will know that it tells a story about an impossible love. In most classic love stories of this type - Romeo & Juliet, The Mill on the Floss, Titanic - the barriers are social, but in the case of Del Toro’s movie they are biological and - this is probably the most original angle - the lovers manage to overcome the ultimate barrier: Love literally overcomes Death, the lovers literally live happily ever after. That’s all okay, this is a fairy tale with horror overtones, The Beauty and the Beast with a sniff of the Frankenstein myth (and some religious overtones). The problem - at least my problem - is that you sense that the movie is desperately trying to say something, no doubt something of great importance. I don’t care for messages, at least not in movies. Messages belong in bottles, if I need one, I pick one up at the seashore.
If you’ll look past the gloss, you’ll notice that The Shape of Water is a rather empty audience pleaser that is not as original as it may seem. But it’s wonderfully acted and beautifully made, and its sugary message will no doubt please moviegoers and Academies. Four Oscars you say? Thought so.
3 out of 5