A brilliant film by director Guillermo del Toro. Actresses Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer stole the screen in this mid-century modern fantasy. Premiering on December 3rd in 2017, this film raised eyebrows and most viewers couldn’t see all the beautiful elements the film has to offer due to their intense focus on the mute protagonist “falling in love with a fish”. I truly hope you all can appreciate this amazing movie and notice some of the more refined elements during the movie’s runtime. The Shape of Water is currently available for streaming on Hulu.
I want to start off by briefly talking about the things that happen in this film plot-wise (which is very much a challenge). Very much happens in this film rightfully so for how many characters there are. For starters this film takes place in the year 1962 and the cold war is in full swing. Elisa’s neighbor/closest companion finds himself in love with a pie shop operator and shunned for it. Zelda is on her own journey to standing up for herself. And our loving couple both achieve freedom. Every named character in this film has their own story and thus the audience has so many different perspectives through which to view the events as they unfold. On the topic of character I lastly want to address the antagonist Richard Strickland played by the oh so talented Michael Shannon. There are few other antagonists so perfectly fleshed out and well acted (save for Thanos). For everything our modern standards may disagree with when it comes to Strickland, he is a consistent character. The role is that of a man who takes his position seriously and does so with the weight of the cold war on his back. For every fault or mistreatment towards others, Richard shows his motivations transparently which is why I find him sympathetic. Perhaps had Elisa not fallen in love with the creature, Strickland could have very well been the hero of this film. And that really is the goal especially with a character driven story, because in real life we all view ourselves as the hero and act accordingly. This is a strength that is hard to master perfectly and Guillermo nailed it!
That last paragraph was not brief but perhaps I can be more brief at the design of the film. No film has a better soundtrack to match this film’s. The film’s composer, Alexandre Desplat hit yet another film out of the park (after other stellar works like Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel). The songs along it are mostly sweet and all gentle. These lighter songs score a deeply somber setting (notice me transitioning to talking about set design?) The color scheme and its consistency is what really set the film apart from any other movie released in 2017. The color palette is unique in that it is hard to pull off in any setting let alone a mid-century modern fairytale. Yet it all feels so natural and helps gravitate the audience into this marvelous world del Toro established.
I want to ask you a couple things:
> What were your first reactions to The Shape of Water? Did you think it would win Best Picture at the following academy awards?
> When you are watching this film, from which character's eyes do you view the story?
> Did you notice Elisa’s increasing use of wearing the color red as the film progresses?
> Is there a certain favorite song in the soundtrack that dances in your head afterward? La Javanaise is just that for me!