Director: Guillermo del Toro
Run Time: 2h 3m
I’m convinced critics have no idea what they’re doing. Or they’re just f***ing with us.
Say hello to Elisa (Sally Hawkins). She is a mute maintenance worker at a top secret government lab in the 1960s. Every day is very much the same for her. She wakes up. Sets some eggs to boil. Masturbates in the tub. Makes her lunch. Says hello to her neighbor. Naps on the bus ride to work. Then listens to her work BFF, Zelda (Octavia Spencer) gab the latest gossip. Go home, rinse, repeat. Until one day when a new specimen arrives. A sea creature — very reminiscent of the Creature from the Black Lagoon — has been captured by the dastardly Mr. Strickland (Michael Shannon) and the torturous experiments begin. A very horny Elisa falls in love with the merman (Doug Jones) and vows to set him free. She’ll be slowed by government conspiracy, gay agenda, and villainous villainy. But not before she gets herself some merpenis!
Watching The Shape of Water was like that time the Academy tricked me into watching puppet porn. Apparently critics are sexually repressed.
Here’s the thing. Is this movie beautiful? Yes. Does it have amazing set design? Absolutely! Is the merman costume/makeup top-notch? Of course, it’s a Guillermo del Toro production. But everything else is so incredibly stupid that it’s tough to admire.
It’s true, Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer deliver amazing performances. It’s unfortunate that Spencer is stuck playing a character she’s played several times before, but she has mastered the soul of the sassy best friend so there is that. Sally Hawkins may choose some strange movies to participate in, but she does give it her all. But even stellar performances from these leading ladies can’t disguise the fact that this movie is terrible.
Let’s get one thing straight. I do not, nor will I ever, care about bestiality. I have no investment in the idea and I can’t say I am a supporter of the act. So the fact that Miss Elisa is super horny for something NOT human is awkward as f***. And then she gets to describe how that’s possible with using her hands because everyone needs that visual. The whole plot is propelled by the fact that this poor, lonely woman needs to get laid and the only two people interested are an amphibious science project and a dick-headed villain. (Don’t. Ask.) Her prospects are spectacular. And we’re there for every agonizing minute.
Look. I get it. It’s a metaphor for acceptance and equality and all that jazz. But there have been plenty of other films to accomplish portraying this message without the use of cross-breeding with a fish. And if you really want your film to send a message of wholesome embrace for all shapes and sizes… don’t make all of your characters a**holes! Every person — and creature — in this film is actually terrible. Elisa is a jerk to her BFF, leaving her to work while she has dates with her merman. Zelda is a nuisance to Elisa for constantly complaining about her dead-beat husband. Strickland is King Jerk for literally a million reasons — they really hit you over the head with the fact that he’s evil. And the merman is a jerk for getting captured and putting us through the misery that is The Shape of Water.
Have I mentioned how sick I am of the government conspiracy spin? Because I’m REALLY tired of it. But if you can’t get enough of it, don’t fret. The Shape of Water has that government agenda that you’re craving!
Despite the fact that this movie is visually and musically stunning, I couldn’t get over the fact that I hated the story and every character who participated. The end title card appeared on the screen and I audibly said “Oh, for f***’s sake” upon storming out of the theater. This was by no means a comedy and I laughed often at the absurdity of what was happening on the screen. (Did I mention the song and dance number where Elisa sings? Because that ALSO happens.)
Please skip this. Don’t pay attention to the awards ceremonies. They’re full of crap.
Honestly, just watch Free Willy. And try not to imagine what it’d be like if someone was trying to get at Willy’s willy.