Why The Shape of Water is the Perfect Picture for Everyone to Watch?
2017 has been a weird, weirder year. When you see the films that are released this year, you can see that different genre are being expelled at the international level. The recent Oscars that happened will tell you and if you’re still not sure, have a look at the 90th Academy Awards nominations. This year, we see Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele raced against Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro and not to mention that, of course, Guillermo del Toro has won the Best Direction award for the Shape of Water. A year where Daniel Day-Lewis has been listed for the best actor against the everyone’s favorite Timothee Chalamet who gave us “Call me by your Name” as well as a small cameo in the “Lady Bird”. However, The Shape of Water has taken everyone’s attention by gaining 13 different nominations out of which it has won 4 Oscars, altogether. A cold war Sci-Fi romance as it is, this movie is about the blossoming love between a mute woman and a fish-man who befriends each other and then falls in love to have the canonically accepted sex leading the nine different pictures. So why is everyone so excited about the movie and what’s there in the movie that made it win 100 million dollars when the budget is just 19 million dollars? Well, spoilers ahead, this is why!
If we say that 2017 is the year for giving voice to the voiceless people, then ‘The Shape of Water’ is the movie that does it the best. Sally Hawkins has been nominated for the Best actress for playing the phenomenal role of Elisa Esposito, a mute woman who is working as a custodian at a cold war facility. This facility turns into a home to a fish man that people find in South America. Doug Jones, underrated plays the role of the unnamed Amphibian Man and the two of them slowly start developing a friendship between them which later turns into a romantic relationship. Throughout the movie, neither of them utter a single word as the male doesn’t know the language and the female have the disability of the speech. Indeed, this is one thing that makes the movie extremely beautiful and beyond the limits. Most of the people get touchy seeing the two different characters falling for each other wordlessly. The last time that I have seen something happen so beautifully is in ‘The Artist (2012)’ which was again not a sci-fi and it doesn’t include any monsters or says amphibians. A moment in ‘The Shape of Water’ that takes people by heart is when Hawkins and Giles, her roommate excels when Elisa signs to Giles and asks him to translate all of his signs to words and in other words, give her a voice. The physical acting of Hawkins has been incredible and if you’re not moved by this, I don’t what else will move you. The routine of hers shown in the movie makes the whole movie extremely inclusive and appealing to put it in exact words.
“When he looks at me, the way he looks at me… He does not know what I lack, or how I am incomplete. He sees me for what I am, as I am. He’s happy to see me. Every time. Every day. Now, I can either save him… or let him die.”
Watching two world-class actors come together to execute a moving monologue about finding one’s place in the world is remarkable. It sticks with you throughout the film. And for a movie which certain corners of the internet would have you believe is a corny joke about bestiality, it feels like an extra special triumph.
In 2017, we have been exposed to movies where we see humans having sex with the monsters, but ‘The Shape of Water’ is nothing close. This film has a scene where an adult woman is shown having sex with an amphibian man. Guillermo del Toro as a writer, more than a director has managed to put it so beautifully where he managed to draw a line between the vulgarity and the explicitly. Yes, both the characters in this film does have sex and let us talk about it in detail. Del Toro did not want to actually promote the concept of monster and human sex but only tried to show the beauty of it. The human/monster romantic relationships between the men and the women go to many centuries back in the cinema especially when we consider the horrors, the supernatural and even the rom-coms say the Beauty and the Beast. But we have never seen a fishy thing going on and that too being nominated for the Academy Award? What exactly is going on here?
As Meg Downey writes in The Hollywood Reporter, this might have to do with the fact that Guillermo del Toro is a seasoned horror movie master before all else.
For a moment, let us forget that we are looking at the monster but rather a vulnerable creature looking for some acceptance and love. Maybe this is the reason why Doug Jones has excelled as the fish boy, able to create empathy in the hearts of the audience. Through the movie, del Toro has succeeded in providing a perfect foil to the men. Throughout the years, we have seen the male characters exerting ooze on the screen with unparalleled masculinity and who are physically shown to be utterly strong and as a result, some of us have grown despicable of it. However, this character highlights the humanity and it kind of feels good to see that the girl ends up with him because of the human characters in him instead of him looking food or despite the fact that he actually is a monster.
And in the year of #MeToo, it seems fitting that a man is found out to actually be the monster. While the whole “does Elisa fuck the fish man” thing is not left up to interpretation in the slightest, the ending toward which the film spends its two hours and three minutes building up to is somewhat akin to a close-up of a spinning top. Minutes from the end of the film, the fish man jumps into the water taking Elisa with him, and right then we get a second great monologue from Richard Jenkins, this time via voiceover.
If I told you about her, what would I say? That they lived happily ever after? I believe they did. That they were in love? That they remained in love? I’m sure that’s true.
Do they live happily ever after? Does Elisa live at all? Do the fish man’s healing abilities allow him to bring people back from the dead? Does the fish man have a previously undisclosed ability that allows him to give humans the ability to breathe underwater?
The Shape of Water is the kind of movie that one would want to watch again and again and all over again. The fact that the film is existing in the first place explains the need for humanity in the existing world. The Shape of Water is not just any human-monster movie but a romantic movie that has the quote, ‘Don’t judge a book by cover’ quote all over it. The director is known for creating emotionally touching movies that reflect our anxieties and fears as a human. Elisa, Zelda, and Giles have given us excelling performances making the movie good and extremely flawless showing the routine put into the surroundings. The movie scenes have been highlighted by the soundtracks from the uplifting light and tones. This movie can either be called as a tragedy or can be called a romantic drama, where Elisa stands up to the worst adversity. The lead falls in love with the better life of the human and shows the importance of the affection in a person’s life.
Altogether, the greatest thing that Guillermo del Tero has managed to pull in filming ‘The Shape of Water’ is to see the glass as half-full and provide an optimistic view about love in our lives making the film a perfect one to watch.