“The Shape of Water”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: January 4th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

Guillermo del Toro’s phantasmagoric “The Shape of Water” aspires to so much, in a manner that pulls its audience into its beguiling dreamscape, that it overcomes whatever minor flaws one might find.

It is romantic. Oh so very very romantic.

It is psychedelic.

There is nostalgia within nostalgia.

Despite a framework that is an obvious reference to 1950s phantom from the depths drive in movie scenarios, a wooden genre full with stereotypes, the human interaction delves deep, commenting on social mores of the times, then and now.

Elisa (Sally Hawkins, magnificent as usual) and Zelda (Octavia Spencer) are cleaning ladies in one of those top secret government facilities in which these movies are always set. It is of course the 1950s. Scientists flit about, experimenting. There are lots of military. 

A sea creature (Doug Jones) is captured and kept under lock and key so its value, if any, might be hidden from the Russkies, and so scientists may probe and government agents may prod.

Elisa is a gentle mute with a simple life, and one friend besides Zelda, her neighbor in an apartment above a theater, Giles (Richard Jenkins).

Elisa, a curious sort, is intrigued by Amphibian Man, feeds and plays music for him surreptitiously. And, of course, falls in love.

The villain, too much villain it says here, is electric prod wielding Michael Shannon, who pulls out a bit too much of that inner menace that imbues just about all his characters.

Elisa hatches a plan to save and free her love.

And, oh it is all so enrapturing, such that my description can’t do it justice.

Credit for this visually resplendent film with its deep, rich palette and stylized sets must be acknowledged. Production designer Paul D. Austerberry and art director Nigel Churcher have created an environment unlike any you or I have seen before on the silver screen. Or, at least for a long while.

And there is water. Oh my is there water.

That’s its shape and the film itself remain elusive are, one might suppose, the point here.

Even before the fantasia of an ending, the viewer is invited to dive in, and be washed away.

Beyond any circumstances of plot, this is cinematic poetry, an escape into the capabilities of the medium in the hands of a free thinking creator.

So maybe it’s a might too grisly as we approach the denouement, that some of the tropes are a bit too familiar, but we are eventually and gleefully swept away into the currents of the improbable.

What a enchanting place to wind up. What a charming way to arrive there.

Listen to the podcast for further waxing on:

Audio MP3

— c d kaplan


One Comment on ““The Shape of Water”: Film Review & Podcast”

  1. 1 Marvin L. Coan said at 1:02 pm on January 5th, 2018:

    Good job! Didn’t think I wanted to see it after seeing the previews several times but your review convinced me otherwise. M


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