The Shape of Water directed by Guillermo del Toro
I am someone who appreciates Guillermo del Toro as a director and as a creative powerhouse. I like his highly original and outlandish demonic creature films, his personal and genuine riffs on gothic horror, his popcorn actioners, I have been a big fan of most, if not all of it. So I wanted to see this movie when I first heard about it, I would have seen it in the theater earlier if I wasn't languishing in money worry. It looked like a stand alone Abe Sapien movie, who was the aquatic creature sidekick from Hellboy, a character and movie I liked a lot. Then it won the Academy Award for Best Picture. And I was like ok, how does that happen? comic book movies don't usually win Academy Awards, neither do monster movies, this must have something really special going for it. I need to see this movie. I can't wait to see this one.
I watched it at the dollar theater in its first Friday there. I didn't connect with it at all. By the end I felt like I had been slapped across the face with a honey glazed ham. This won Best Picture? What the fuck? and what the fuck is this movie?
Its a romance novel take on E.T. It has moments that are little bit like Amelie. Its a 1950's era period piece (I liked that part of the movie), Its characters are caricatures, props to manipulate with zero depth, which is odd in a film that references water constantly. Water in film always represents the unconscious or so I have been told. The characters here are pretty much 2d and stereotypical I was borderline offended, the African American maid, the gay visual artist they only exist as props to manipulate the audience to feel outrage at their oppression in that era. The lead actress is a Talia Shire look alike, who is not afraid of nudity and she is fine here in the role, she plays a mute white woman who happens to have scars on her neck that look like gills (I wonder where that plot bunny goes). Micheal Shannon plays a caricature of an evil white man who represents the patriarchy of the 1950's. The villain is the patriarchy. The bigots that get shoved in the story to make the audience agree that they should care about what happens to the fish man.
There is a love story here, but I didn't buy it. Apparently someone did, its a best picture winner.
This could be one of the least subtle movies about the unconscious ever made. If you are not a women who enjoys romance novels, and righteous indignation toward the patriarchy I would not recommend. Even if you are, as a viewer you need to be ok with being ham fistedly emotionally manipulated by storytelling props.
The Cinematography is awesome, The sets were cool.
I don't know, maybe its me. Maybe I shouldn't care when a story feels blatantly manipulative. But I do. When a piece of art all but comes out and says "you feel this now" or does so in a way that doesn't feel earned I don't like it. Maybe its because I am a man. But then why don't women care about this? Maybe some do.
Maybe everyone is blind to being manipulated in a way that they like. I didn't like The Shape of Water.