'The Shape of Water:' What's the Big Fuss?
My Take on This Disappointing Fairytale
The Shape of Water was hyped to be one of the best films of 2017, being nominated for several awards and coming from acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro. While I am usually a fan of the dark, mysterious, and fairytale-esque worlds he creates, this one for me fell drastically short of expectations. Despite a fantastic cast, director, producer, and writer, The Shape of Water is a completely forgettable experience.
Despite its two hour run time, the story and character development felt extremely rushed and confused. It was a haphazard mish mash of genres and moods and it did not flow well at all. Whereas with Pan's Labyrinth, the setting of a child-like fairy tale was blended so well with the brutal reality of Ophelia's real life and the ensuing gore. It was done in a way that made the violence jarring but this was extremely effective. With The Shape of Water it just felt extremely out of place and unnecessary, contributing nothing overall to the story or characters. There is also obviously going to be limitations when your main character is a mute, however this also allows for great creative ideas. It can allow for a deeper understanding of the character from the audience as they become attuned to the person's facial expressions and body language, sometimes being an even more powerful performance due to the silence. With Sally Hawkins however, we are left with a less than interesting backstory and are battered over the head with the fact she is a kind and selfless person, who furiously masturbates in the bath every morning.
It really felt like this movie didn't know what it was trying to be, with the tone changing fairly frequently and not gelling together. As already mentioned, there were repeated scenes of Hawkins masturbating in the bath while waiting for her eggs to boil (no pun intended) and then scenes of her tap dancing like a five-year-old girl. I didn't know what the film was trying to tell me about her, because it was certainly nothing interesting or important to the story. The "romance" between Sally Hawkins and the fish creature is poorly developed. There is no real show of affection from the creature. He likes her because she feeds him and doesn't hurt him. Somehow, this leads her to believe she should start a sexual inter-species relationship, which the film tried to portray as true love, when really I found it uncomfortable and creepy. I never felt like I was watching a love story, I was watching a woman keeping a pet and engaging in beastiality. Hawkins tries to draw similarities between them to explain her love. She can't speak and neither can he. Wow. By this logic she would be up for a bang with any animal that looks at her a certain way.
All jokes aside, I was so disappointed with this. It was an idea that could have been extremely interesting considering we have top secret science facilities, a mute woman with a tragic background, and a FISH MAN to play with. I wanted to know more about the creature, where did he come from? Is there more of him? How can he heal things and cure baldness? What is this facility and how did it come about? But instead, we got a half-arsed romance, boring villains, and a mess of genres and moods. The whole movie felt empty and devoid of any distinguishable identity. Too much time was spent on things that didn't really matter or add anything special and not enough time spent on the interesting aspects that the audience would definitely have questions about. Really hope the next film from Del Toro surpasses this one, which to me anyway, will be an easy feat.