This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Laura’s review published on Letterboxd :
This review may contain spoilers.
Ever since I have started "trying" to review media, I always remember hearing critics regard how certain films transcended a normal moviegoing adventure. They were described as 'experiences'.
Well, this here movie is certainly one of those films. This was one of the most unique experiences I have ever had the gift of viewing.
I had no idea what to expect going in. I knew there was sexual relations between a woman and a fish, but it is vastly deeper than that. This movie is all about showcasing those that are seen as different. How they see themselves, and the other, more privileged folk. How they're supposed to keep going on every day when things get tough for them. I bet you didn't expect this from a fish sex movie. But yep, they openly show racism, homophobia, animal abuse, workplace harassment, domestic (verbal) abuse, and disabilities in the form of a mute woman named Eliza. You know, it's funny, I was just thinking to myself the other day that it would be really wonderful to see a mute protagonist on some medium. And look, it happened! Dreams come true!
This film paints a dark picture of the world, while adjacently painting an immersive way to fight back against oppression with beautiful shades of blue and green. I can see why Guillermo Del Toro was so inspired by this work of his because it really comes off as a passion project from someone who understands the highest art of cinema.
The performances across the board were phenomenal. Sally Hawkins might've been our (fantastic, mind you) lead, but Richard Jenkins' Giles is our narrator for the beginning and end. His journey inspired me and affected me the most, for personal reasons, and I really wish he would take home that Oscar he so deserves. In fact, this entire cast deserves their awards; Octavia Spencer too, as Zelda was a really welcome confidant that Elisa could lean on when the world confused or otherwise hurt her. Perhaps the most slept on actor of the year, Michael Stuhlbarg, delivered yet another fervent performance, which included making me despise him at one point then love him later on. Even Michael Shannon, who normally likes to go over the top with his villainous roles, was subdued and certifiably creepy. It was a pretty realistic villain for him as well, and for being a story from the 50s it was very prevalent to today's society.
And that's precisely why it has resonated with audiences everywhere. Between this and Get Out, we have two films that challenged our preconceived beliefs and notions on several genres, and several groups of individuals. I was very surprised to see The Shape of Water tackle all of these issues head on. And they handled everything masterfully.
You can't ask for films better than these, even if they shouldn't have to be made.
It's looking like this film could take home the Best Picture win, and I would be elated as fuck if that were to happen.
Thank you, Guillermo, for this beauty.
I will be watching more of your films.