Film review: “The Shape of Water”

Yehya Farghal
Contributing Writer

I am more than willing to place a bet and affirm that “The Shape of Water” will dominate most of the Oscar wins this year. With more than twelve nominations, it is this year’s new “La La Land.” This review contains spoilers, so read at your own risk.

The unique feature is directed by Guillermo del Toro and is one of the most lovely, emphatic tributes to Old Hollywood. Yet, in parallel, the movie is a modern monster film and a twisty take on an adult “Beauty and the Beast”; that can only come from great minds of visionary filmmakers.

The story takes place in the streets of America’s Cold War. A mute female janitor, who works in a high-secret laboratory, falls in love with a high-classified asset. Rapidly, the audience finds out that the captive creature is a humanoid amphibian. The tale advances quickly in between the lovely cinematographic frames, the visual effects, a beautifully written dialogue, and a character’s unwrapping. The main protagonist, then, decides to save the life of the prisoner and set him free.

If you are still hesitating to whether you should watch this feature or not, here are my viewpoints. I am still in awe with the stagger opening shot of the picture. Not only does the imagery startle you, but the narrator’s voice-over hooks you immediately. The nuances of color used in the movie are sublime and do the movie justice. The director did an extraordinarily balanced job by using old Hollywood music, themes, costume designs, dialogues, and making the perplexing love story the centerpiece of the movie.  Del Toro charmingly engaged mute language into artistic hand gestures and made it into his own ballade.

As for why this movie is one of the top ten movies of this year, is because it draws a fine line between controversy and absurdity. The story is set in the 1960s and the three main characters are a mute woman, her dark skinned best friend and her closeted gay male neighbor; all of which were considered taboos during this era. Moreover, falling in love with a fish may come as ludicrous, but Del Toro passes with fine colors.

Oppositely today, the movie comes at a perfect moment amidst the “all-white” Oscars of the past few years. Thanks to this movie, Octavia Spencer made history for being the first African American actress to be nominated two years consecutively for the role of supporting actress by the Academy. As well as for this year’s #MeToo movement, the film showcases two strong female lead actresses.

Finally, the movie is filled with indelible quotes, the most striking of which, is: “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. And now I can either save him or let him die” said Sally Hawkins’s character about the creature. The moral of the story can be summed up as: liberation in which a creature helps his human love to become her real self. At a time of division and exclusion, love is universal and can take many shapes, like the water does.

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