The Shape of Water
Length: 123 minutes / 2.05 hours
The modern master of the monster movie, Guillermo del Toro is at it again with The Shape of Water (2017). Much like the Universal Studios monster classics, del Toro has created a career around directing films about how humans interact with these monsters. From building giant robots to fight giant monsters in Pacific Rim (2013) to hiring monsters to kill other monsters in Hellboy (2004), del Toro has also occasionally shown the more human side of monsters. Or, more accurately, he has shown how monster-like humans can become.
Previous films by Guillermo del Toro, like Cronos (1993) and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) have highlighted the negative qualities of man while infusing these films with a sense of fantasy that can often border on straight-up fairy tales. The Shape of Water certainly falls into the “man is the real monster” category of del Toro’s movies, but it kind of beats you over the head with it like it does with all the “water” motifs. In fact, speaking of beating over the head, The Shape of Water still contains the few moments of “uncomfortable violence” that other del Toro films usually have in them.
In the end, The Shape of Water is a visually beautiful and unique take on both the Swamp Monster and the Little Mermaid. I’ll forgive some of the weird moments (like the dancing sequence and the impossibly strong bathroom floor) merely because the simple plot makes the audience so sympathetic for a creature that would usually be the antagonist of a monster movie. At its most basic, The Shape of Water is about love in its many forms, which might make some people uncomfortable. The fact that it’s packaged like a fairy tale, with a brilliantly whimsical score by Alexandre Desplat, means this movie should at least give audiences something to think about.
An intriguing exploration of the “monster” genre, I give The Shape of Water 4.5 stars out of 5.