From master storyteller Guillermo del Toro comes THE SHAPE OF WATER, an otherworldly fable set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Doug Jones.Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
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If I spoke about it - if I did - what would I tell you? I wonder. Would I tell you about the time? It happened a long time ago, it seems. In the last days of a fair prince's reign. Or would I tell you about the place? A small city near the coast, but far from everything else. Or, I don't know... Would I tell you about her? The princess without voice. Or perhaps I would just warn you, about the truth of these facts. And the tale of love and loss. And the monster, who tried to ...
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Self-congratulatory and Gratuitous, the Perfect Candidate for the Oscars
The Shape of Water is really quite remarkable for how perfectly it embodies the mainstream Hollywood sensibility. Its liberal-progressive undertone appears to be culturally relevant, but completely fails to challenge the audience in any meaningful way. Its story of people living at the margins of society bonding over their mutually subjugated status appears progressive and edgy, but its self-congratulatory moralizing suspends any need for serious cultural reflection. It is really the perfect film for politically correct liberals.
The film features the quintessential villain in the liberal cultural imagination today - a racist, sexist, ableist, psychopathic straight white man in the 60s with a white suburban nuclear family. The film really tries to show us how much of a psychopath he is, so that it can score progressive points without having to acknowledge or confront the larger systems of racism, patriarchy, and capitalism which operate as the social fabric of American society and provide the structural condition for people's exploitation and oppression.
In this regard, the film truly epitomizes the ideological manipulations of liberal humanism. Political, legal, social, and historical structures are conveniently ignored and replaced by a narrow focus on individual prejudices and cruelty. Social injustices are explained by the evil of specific individuals. Oppressed minorities are endlessly ennobled and their humanity uncritically celebrated. Villains are reduced to caricatures and do bad things simply because they are bad people.
Reveling in its technical competence and feel-good petit-bourgeois sensibility, the film is utterly unaware of its cultural vapidity, its artistic mediocrity, and its sinister complicity with the status quo. Sprinkled with some gratuitous violence, it is the perfect candidate for the Oscars - a polished, glib, pandering, ostensibly radical but ultimately uninspired fairy tale peddling a complacent and clichéd liberal humanism.
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