This is a brief review of Guillermo del Toro’s new film, “The Shape of Water,” which I saw on Thursday night. Spoilers.
Overall, I found it enjoyable but not as strong as del Toro’s previous work (and by that I mean Pan’s Labyrinth, because that’s the only past work I’ve seen from him).
I appreciated the gist of the story. A lonely, mute janitor falls in love with a captive water monster from the Amazon. But the execution was lacking. The protagonists insists that she lives an isolated, misunderstood, marginalized life, and Gills is the only creature who has ever cared for her, or whatever. But in the film we clearly see that she has good friends in her landlord/roommate and a woman from work who’s been her cleaning partner for ten years. These two individuals also put their own lives/criminal records on the line to help her break aquaman out of the research facility. That really undermines the “boo hoo I’m so lonely and everyone hates me except for you” message that the director is trying to convey here.
Also, the love story came out of nowhere. One second Eliza is feeding eggs to the giant lizard dude and playing him music. The next second she has decided that they are madly in love and she must free him from captivity and take him to her apartment and have shower sex with him. (Yes, that was a thing that happened, and I cringed every time.) There was no transition, nothing to explain this.
The ending was a mess. Eliza and landlord/roommate are on a dock with Godzilla, about to release him into the water. (By the way, they are in Baltimore, and the theater let out a big chuckle when a character uttered the line, “Everyone hates Baltimore.”) Evil research facility dude shows up. BOOM. He shoots landlord/roommate, who falls down dead. BOOM. He shoots lizard man, who falls down dead. BOOM. He shoots Eliza, she is most definitely dead. But wait, landlord/roommate isn’t dead. BOOM. He gets up and hits evil dude in the head with a crowbar or something. BOOM. Evil guy dies. And then BOOM. Barnacle Boy isn’t dead either, it turns out he has magical powers that bring him back to life. He takes a swipe at evil guy’s throat. BOOM. Evil guy actually dies this time. I think. Finally, Mermaid Man jumps into the water with Eliza in his arms. BOOM. She comes to life, and also she has gills now. They live happily ever after. Maybe?
The music was good. The cinematography was good. “The Shape of Water” was an adult fairy tale with a lot of potential that would have benefitted from several more rounds of edits and rewrites.
Overall: 3.5/5 stars