The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro

The Shape of Water makes us rethink the way we, not only see but also act around differences.

Mathieu CéralineMathieu Céraline April 23, 2018

I know I'm really late to write and publish this review, no need reminding me. I mean, I've watch the movie more than a month (okay maybe two) ago and I was supposed to write and share it with you directly after watching it. But I guess life got in the way, right? Anyway, here I will confess all of my complex and intriguing feelings about The Shape of Water movie by Guillermo del Toro and I can only hope that you'll do the same in the comments.

Difference. What does it mean to you? How do you react to it? Human beings are often known to react in three different ways. Fear: not knowing anything about it we must be afraid of its difference and flee. Anger: it’s different, so it must be bad, to protect ourselves we have to either destroy it or make it our slave. Admiration: it’s so different than us, it must be a sign of the gods so we have to venerate it (which is another form of fear). At least that’s what history have shown 🤷🏾‍♂️. But, what about accepting it? In its own way, the new movie by Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water, makes us rethink about the way we, not only see but also act around differences. Here’s my review.


At a top-secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity. [Source: IMDB]

The Shape Of Water: masterpiece?

Aesthetically beautiful

Three minutes in and I was already sure of it: this movie would blow me away. I mean, you can even see it just by watching the trailer, this movie is aesthetically beautiful. It's one of those movies you would still watch even if you couldn't understand any of the dialog.

Giles: « Sometimes I think I was born too early or too late for my life. »

As a producer, Guillermo del Toro perfectly achieved the goal of producing not just a movie but a whole universe.  With the music (we'll talk about that later) and the images (production design and color calibration) he succeeded in portraying this 60's-secretly-weirdish world promised by the synopsis.

For once, and that's not usual, I don't have any particular objections to make about the Production Design. It was beautiful, period.

Allegra Fulton, David Hewlett, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (2017)Allegra Fulton, David Hewlett, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (2017)

Intriguing yet incomplete plot

Alright, so maybe y'all are used to it at this point but ... I do have some objections about the plot...

To the defense of the difference

Let's start with the positive: I really liked it. Actually, I liked all there was around it: the silent girl and the amphibious creature connecting because they are both different. Nobody can (or wants to) understand them so, as a consequence, they can understand each other.

Elisa: « 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. »

As I said in the introduction, this movie suggests that we start doing the same in our life. Stop trying to hide or shy away from our differences but accept them and make them our strength. Because someday, someone will love them.

Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (2017)Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (2017)

Too far or not far enough?

Here we are, the tricky part. I'm mad at this plot because it went both too far and not far enough.

It went too far by forcing a relationship that did not need to exist. I mean, I don't want to spoil you if you haven't seen this movie, but if you have, you'll understand what I mean. The story would have been so much more powerful without it.

Zelda: « [after questioning Elisa about her evening] Lor'...! Never trust a man. Even when he looks flat down there. »

But, it didn't go far enough because we are still lost. I typically hate movies that take us to a adventure with new amazing creatures and things but don't give us enough knowledge about it. I would have loved to know more about this creature, what it is, what it does and how it does it. Is it really asking too much?

Beautiful Soundtrack 🎶

I wasn't planning on writing a whole part about the music. But I for the sake of giving you an honest opinion about the movie and rating it properly I decided to listen to it again while writing and ... God I love it. The whole album is fascinating and has this "realistic yet a bit fantastic" vibe about it, which makes me think that it perfectly suits the movie!

The French variety, Jazz, etc. I could not name them all but there are so many different genres in it! The Soundtrack of The Shape of Water is perfect as background music to chill, to read or, even better, to dream.

I already know that some of the titles of the album will join my "favorite soundtracks" playlist.

David Hewlett, Octavia Spencer, and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (2017)David Hewlett, Octavia Spencer, and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water (2017)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ — 4 out of 5 stars

To break down my rating into a logical system, this is the rating I would give to each aspect of the movie :

  • Acting: 0.75/1⭐️ (Good acting, especially Sally Hawkins's and Michael Shannon's)
  • Writing: 0.25/1⭐️ (I liked some parts of it, but the story could have been so much better in so many ways)
  • Production Design: 1/1⭐️ (Great, from the beginning to the end it was astounding and beautiful to watch)
  • Directing: 1/1⭐️ (It was my first movie by Guillermo del Toro, and now I want to watch the others!)
  • Sound/Music: 1/1⭐️ (I loved it - and still do!)

As a result of all of this, I would give The Shape of Water a 4 out of 5 stars rating. I aesthetically loved it and despite some flaws, I really liked the story.  I know everyone won't agree on this but I really think it was a great movie.

Should you watch it?

Wondering if you should watch Shape of Water? I think you should if:

  • You like drama movies,
  • You like aesthetics and great cinématographiques,
  • You're not easily embarrassed,
  • You are open-minded,
  • You like stories about differences and experiences

I don't think this movie will please all the audiences but if you are a cinema aficionado, whether you like the story or not I'm sure you will aesthetically love it.

Let's chat

You have watched Shape of Water or are planning on doing it? Do you have complex feelings about it like I do? I would love to have your opinion in the comments!

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