I guess it’s true what they say. Fish are friends not food.
“At a top secret research facility in the 1950s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.”
“Cornflakes were invented to prevent masterbation, didn’t work.” When I heard that quote from Giles (Richard Jenkins) in Guillermo Del Toro’s latest master craft of cinema, I knew I was watching something truly special. The Shape of Water really is a unique movie, it deals with many themes, love, the feeling of being incomplete, friendship and what it’s like to be misunderstood. Movies for the most people are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter the mind of another person, that person is usually the director. Not simply with the sense of identifying with the characters, although that is a very important part. But this allows us to see the world as another person sees it. That can be a very powerful thing and a very powerful tool when making a film. I say that, because after watching The Shape of Water, it’s pretty obvious that director and writer Guillermo Del Toro feels a certain way about love and what it means to be loved and love something themselves.
So Oscar nominations came out early last week, and The Shape of Water was awarded the most nominations with 13. For acting, directing and for best picture. I’ve wanted to see this for a long time, but it finally came to my theatre last week. It’s deserving of every single nomination it got, and this is truly a work of art. Visually this movie is stunning, the visuals leap off the screen and that should be expected in a Guillermo Del Toro film. You don’t have to be a fan of his work or some of his movies, but one thing he does better than almost anyone is the sense of style and colour he uses in his movies. Pacific Rim, the Hell Boy movies and Pan’s Labyrinth, all of these films have their own sense of style and direction. From each project he works on, he marks it in some unique way. This movie is no different and you notice that within the first 10 minutes. He’s proven time and time again that he has a knack for beautiful looking production sets and the quality is always top notch. The cinematography is so lush and sleek, the colours are so rich and they just jump out at you.
The performances are incredible. Sally Hawkins (Elisa) who plays the mute janitor or the princess without a voice, gives a terrific performance. She does so much acting with her face and body language. She’s mute for almost the entire movie, but yet you connect with her character and feel for her. I found it really interesting that she is not able to talk, but lives above a movie theatre, so there are always voices going on inside her apartment. When you also get nominated for an Oscar and you don’t speak that really says something about your performance. She feels incomplete in her life because people only see her as a mute and that makes for a massive void in her life. She has a difficult time connecting with other people, because unless they know how to sign, she can’t communicate with them. When she meets the Amphibian Man (Doug Jones), he only she’s her. He doesn’t know she’s a mute and he learns how to sign. He doesn’t know that she is incomplete and that she feels that way. I just want to give credit to Doug Jones, because he is immersed into this role. Much like Andy Serkis, he doesn’t get enough credit for his performances. Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer (Zelda) who plays Elisa’s co-worker, also got nominated for Oscars. Giles also feels incomplete and somewhat unlovable. He’s Elisa’s neighbour and artist who struggles with being gay, because this takes place in the 1950’s and that was very misunderstood at the time. They really only have each other and their bond and friendship was beautiful to watch. They are trying to fill the empty void in each others life, but they can’t, not until Elisa meets this creature that is being held captive at the facility where she works. This movie is being describe has a woman falling in love with a monster, but as I sat down and watched this film, I realized the real monster in the movie is Michael Shannon’s character (Richard Strickland). He is responsible for finding the creature and serves as security for it. He’s mean, tortures the creature and is an all-round abusive and racist man. Like every single thing Michael Shannon is in, he gives a chilling and powerful performance.
Movies like all forms of art, are the most powerful aid to empathy. The good ones ultimately make us into better people. Walking away from The Shape of Water, it’s a movie about love. About being loved. Perhaps it’s about love not being about what you have to say, because the love that is formed is done without the use of any words. That love doesn’t have to be about what you say, but rather what you feel inside. Elisa wanted someone to see past her flaw and just get to know and finally love her. On the flip side it’s also about looking past on what is on the outside. Yes, a woman falls in love with a sea creature, but I think Guillermo wanted to show that love shouldn’t be about what you look like. That looking like that shouldn’t mean you can’t be loved, and when you sit back and reflect on it, it’s actually a really beautiful message. So I don’t know if he had ever felt this way in his life and wanted to try to explain and express the way he has felt at some time in his life, but I would imagine that has to be the case. I think you need to understand and be familiar with Guillermo’s work to fully understand this movie.
Overall, I thought The Shape of Water was a piece of art. A beautiful and unique love story. You really don’t see films like these and I think that’s a good thing. When your movie gets nominated for 13 Oscars it means something. I don’t believe it will win that many, because the categories and other nominees it’s matched up against is stacked, but that doesn’t take anything away from it. It’s a movie that makes you think, it has a really great message. This is just a really beautiful film and if you are a fan of Del Toro’s or a movie buff, this shouldn’t be missed.
Check ya later
Nate’s Movie Tour Review – The Shape of Water = 91/100