How does one fall in love with a fish? Elegantly, it seems. A lot of people have described ‘The Shape Of Water’ as poetic, and I do agree that it is the best word to describe Guillermo del Toro’s film. It stars Sally Hawkins as Elisa, who works as a janitress in some kind of scientific facility (something called OCCAM) Elisa lives a relatively normal life, hanging out with her next-door neighbor, watching old movies at the movie theater below her apartment, reenacting foot choreography from old musicals. There is a real old-fashioned wonderment in her existence, as she weaves her days in and out with her friend Zelda, played by Octavia Spencer (in a role she can do in her sleep)
Until one day a ‘creature’ arrives in said factory, and she gets attracted to it. There’s a subplot involving Americans and Russians fighting for said creature, and there are forces who fight to save the creature. And there’s a love story in the midst of this all. I was less interested in the former than the latter, and for me, the film is at its best when exploring the love angle of the two. the former plot line seems rote, while there is a a lot of humanity in seeing two elements falling in love. For sure, a lot of people would think that the love story would seem odd (A lot of people have described the film as weird) but for me, stories about love – in all forms and shapes, even water – towers above all.
I liked this movie a lot, and I am always attracted to all things, old-fashioned, especially mid century settings. And there is Renee Fleming singing ‘You’ll Never Know’ at the end of the film that is quite exquisite. But sometimes, the ‘getting there’ seemed a bit of a chore.