The Shape of Water left me mesmerized and transported me to a world of spellbinding beauty, magic, spectacle and above all unadulterated love! Guillermo del Toro captivated me fully through his craft, and within minutes took away all the inhibitions with which I had walked into the theatre of watching something creepy and awkward. Rather what he does is sweep one out into his world of magical realism, where there is one common binding factor, that of love and compassion, that brings five unlikely and not so normal individuals closer together and helping each other to live and find happiness in their incompleteness – A mute lonely girl (Eliza), An amphibian humanoid (the Asset), A homosexual old man (Giles), An Afro-American janitor (Zelda) and a Soviet spy in US in the times of cold war (Dimitri).
Their world is as monotonous and full of struggles, as it is beautiful and serene. And its their deeply impacting sensitivity and compassion towards the most unlikely quarters that makes them so endearing, ordinary and yet very special in everything they do. What interrupts their world of love and makes it murky is of course the cruel, selfish intent of a bunch of experimenters who want everything to be used for their own crooked motives, and if they are not successful, they just want it to be destroyed equally cruelly!
Honestly, this whole cruel enact and its over dramatization somehow feels like a jarring unwanted intrusion into the beautiful magical world created, and breaks the rhythm of the love ballad at a few places. It also almost kills the climax with too much of violence and drama, but thankfully the final underwater shot and its mesmerizing beauty prevents the free fall of the film to bring it back to life, turning scars to gills, & cliches to poetry.. The same however cannot be said about the scene of a poetic musical sequence, one that has an uncanny resemblance to the most hyped scene of the most hyped film from last Oscars… that one again was surely a rhythm buster for me, and not in a very good way..
These downers are though few and far.. Most of the film is full of many lovely cinematic moments –
Whether its the one between Eliza and Giles where she confesses her love in a heart wrenching sequence – “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. He’s happy – to see me. Every time. Every day. Now, I can either save him… or let him die..” …
OR that final note of Giles summing it all up and leaving you in a trance – ” If I told you about her, what would I say? That they lived happily ever after? I believe they did. That they were in love? That they remained in love? I’m sure that’s true. But when I think of her – of Elisa – the only thing that comes to mind is a poem, whispered by someone in love, hundreds of years ago: ‘Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere.’ ”
OR a breathtaking imagery of a room full of water and two individuals deeply immersed in love – literally and figuratively, trying to find completeness in each other.. with you rooting for them to find their ethereal eternity..
All such moments of wholesome goodness are brought to life by some absolutely spectacular performances.. Sally Hawkins is simply brilliant and says a lot through her moments of silence.. Equally terrific is Octavia Spencer as one of most endearing characters of the film done to perfection.. Richard Jenkins is on point both through his on screen performance and the voiceover.. The weakest character of the film though is the creepy creature unfortunately around whom the whole film revolves, and with him Michael Shannon playing the antagonist is equally carricaturish.. Technically, the film excels in its music, cinematography, production design, screenplay at large, and controlled editing.. All put together, its a magic of del Toro at play here, and he ensures that everything is perfectly arranged in this breathtaking canvas to create a spectacular piece of art – well almost!
I am not sure how many Oscars will Shape of Water finally win, and to me it does not even matter. But it will surely win a lot of unlikely hearts like mine, through its sheer magic, beauty and sparkle.. and power of unassuming, unadulterated love…