I recently caught the highly praised and Oscar nominated film, The Shape of Water. Here are my personal thoughts about the film and 4 things I found wrong about this fishy story.
***Major Film Spoilers Ahead. Read at your own discretion***
1. The Unnecessary Nudity
The film opens with heroine, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), masturbating while fully nude in the bathtub. This felt like a male centric scene as the scene itself served not purpose to push the storyline. All viewers learned is that Elisa routinely masturbates in the bathtub while she boils eggs.
Then there was the scene between Strickland and his wife having sex where Strickland covers the mouth of his wife with with bloody fingers, and repeatedly says, “I just want you silent.” The scene was unnecessary and uncomfortable to sit through as a female.
2. Elisa’s Backstory
Viewers are quick to noticed the three mysterious claw marks on both sides of Elisa’s neck. Later Zelda (Octavia Spencer) explains to the antagonist of the film, Strickland (Michael Shannon), that Elisa was found in a river as a baby. Which river was she found in? Is Elisa originally from the Amazon just like her amphibian man counterpart? Is it just coincidence that Elisa works as a janitor for a government laboratory that specializes in creatures? I think not!
The lack of backstory of the film’s heroine creates more plots holes as the storyline progresses to the final scene. In the final scene the amphibian man saves Elisa’s life by not only healing her, but turning her mysterious necks marks into gills. The reveal was not impactful and came off predictable (maybe with some backstory the viewers would have found the scene more moving).
3. The Russian Plot
The “Beauty and the Beast” storyline should have been the only story told in the film. The audience routed for Elisa, laughed with Zelda, despised Strickland and wanted Giles (Richard Jenkins) as their best friend. However, the storyline with the Russian mob and Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Micheal Stuhbarg) fell flat. I get the film takes place in the 1960s at the height of The Cold War. However, the exploration and scientific research to trap an amphibian man seemed pointless. As the Russians’s planned to kill the creature regardless. There was no battle to save the creature for their benefit and underhand the Americans. This just felt like a poorly executed subplot.
4. The Amphibian Man
The amphibian was the greatest mystery in the film. Viewers learned from Strickland that the amphibian man was found in the Amazon. Worshiped as a God, the amphibian man was presented gifts and held sacred. This plays out in the film as Elisa offers the amphibian man eggs which leads to a trusting relationship forming between the two.
Later in the closing scene of the film, viewers learn that the amphibian man is in fact a God. Standing tall after being shot by Stickland, he heals himself and uses his powers to grant Elisa a new life. Director del Toro explained that there was no larger scope of a backstory for the creature. In fact the creature simply goes as amphibian man in the film, no name will be given to the creature and sadly his backstory is left for audiences to interpret.