OK…film commentary #1.
To date, and as of this writing, that’s March 3, 2018…my favorite film, thus far, is “The Shape of Water” by Guillermo del Toro. Nominated for 13 Oscars, this may be far from an original choice, but for me it goes down as a new favorite of mine because it checks the boxes for me that typically make up my favorite films…primarily, being a story or idea that has no business in succeeding. As with my favorite film of all-time, “It’s a Wonderful Life” by Frank Capra, if you try describing the plot of the film, either in a concise capsule summary manner or expanding further than that, you’d find yourself hard pressed to make it sound like anything beyond a whimsical little story at best, and something ludicrous and a waste of time at worst.
A love affair between a captive fish/man-like creature and a mute cleaning woman is hardly the idea that would inspire you to run out and see it much less anticipate the emotional depths that it would bring you…yet it does.
Bookended by the narration of a primary character, you travel full circle on this cinematic journey that not only has you accepting the plausibility of this romance but rooting for it.
Mr. del Toro, as he did with “Pan’s Labyrinth,” creates a fairy tale for adults with the most base of characters that work perfectly and are necessary in films of this ilk. Heroes that you engage with and truly love, villains that you hate from your core and a story that seamlessly carries you along to where you are surprised to find that two hours and three minutes have gone by.
Shot wonderfully in muted tones, scored to match the space and time and acted to perfection by a cast of pros, there is little to dislike about this production and I love that I was using unintended puns like “muted” tones and “emotional depths” when discussing a story of a cleaning woman who can’t speak and a fish-man. Because ultimately, that is what it is all about. There is no doubt that it deserves the accolades it has thus far received.
Mr. del Toro reminds us that love is everywhere if you just open your eyes and try to show some tolerance and acceptance and not be frightened and defensive just because someone or something doesn’t look like anything you are used to. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong sharing this planet too.
This film will force debate as to which of his efforts is his masterpiece when measuring it up to “Pan’s Labyrinth” but there is no debating that he has a place as a true master of the cinema and they will be studied by film fans and students for years to come.