The Shape of Water ★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

First really big disappointment of Oscar season. The art design is terrific, but as Joan Bedinger used to tell me, if the audiences comes away praising the sets, that's not a good review.

The story itself is rather conventional romance, and its punctuated by flat, stereotypical characters (loyal black friend, cowardly gay neighbor who finds his courage, sadistic bible-quoting warden/villain.)

There's a pacing problem and a tonal problem. The latter, I guess can be chocked up to del Toro's aesthetic or even laid at the feet of Gothic, but the shifts from bloody violence to romanticized sexuality to fantasy dancing struck me as more of a pastiche than a genre buster.

Ultimately, I kept waiting for the movie to be *about* something, for the choices the characters made to contribute to a theme or an idea, but it just skates along the rails of its chase plot.

Love conquers all, I guess. All but bored, cynical movie critics.