The Shape of Water, 2017
Signed up the 28/03/2017
The Shape of Water takes an amphibian specie from the Amazon and a mute woman to craft a star-crossed love story with a bit of cheek. The film, though seemingly complicated, is pretty much straight forward. It tells of the extremes that one would go to protect those they love, no matter the cost.
The atmosphere of this movie is backdropped by struggles of those who are "othered". From the mute woman, Elisa, who falls in love with the amphibian man; both are oppressed, shunned and misunderstood. Elisa's best friend, an aging man, has taken a dire interest in a young man at a close-by coffee shop; both homophobia and ageism are touched on. To the oppression of black people and women; a black couple isn't allowed to sit in a restuarant, and Octivia's Spencer's character, Zelda, who is coerced into staying in her place both at work and at home.
All of this discrimination is masterly attenuated by Guillermo del Toro, this is so that they play out like an eager siren in the distance that's warning of this great shame and tragedy that people who are different are made to go through, while this unfortunate stage plays out for a reason.
Nothing is emphasised or dramatised awfully in this movie, just the same way that nothing is downplayed. The love story, sexuality and struggle are covered to a great balance. The mystism is brought to life without the insinuated a distorted reality, which would no doubt habe turned the film into a senseless fairytale. This is what separates the movie from the likes of Beauty and the Beast. It is dreamy though; one moment I can hook to this is the underwater scene in the bathroom. Here we witness a bit of the foolish, overly-imaginitive style which del Toro had to direly avoid throughout the movie. The renowned director himself has said that taking on this movie might be "career-suicide" for him. Well, you get to decide.
Even with all the storytelling beats the movie has managed to hit, it still feels like a tease. After the credits roll we're left unsatisfied. The story just isn't as meaty as I imagine the writers thought it to be. Looking at the overall product, this del Toro project comes short in many ways. It plays out like an improvised stage-play, where the cast is either too animated or don't show up enough for the story that was imagined. The amphibian god also didn't contribute much to the story, although the movie was centred around him. It seemed as though the specie was there for show, torture-porn if you will, which clearly goes against the message of the movie.
The neon green colour was the perfect pick for a main colour. You don't see filmmakers going with a themed colour often enough. I was too thrilled to see that del Toro is truly the guy that isn't afraid to disturb the peace, even at the risk of his own career. This colour isn't just there to make the movie look pretty, it is there to substantiate the otherworldliness of the oppressed, their unconstrained forward thinking and futurism. There is a certain time where we see a yellow space being presented; this colour, by contrast, simply asserts that the "normal" people are the ones who are dull, unbecoming and disconnected.
This is a movie I wouldn't go on too much about except for its particular technical prowess, especially the score, but watching it for the experience isn't much of a waste either. Plus Octivia Spencer is in it, I can't get any more convincing.
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