Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Since the Best Movie was announced at the Oscar Awards, I have been wanting to see The Shape of Water.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, the movie is described as an other-worldly fable. I was fascinated by the character who lives in the water, a creature who looks vaguely like the creature from the Black Lagoon.

Shape of water posterMy son and I watched it together, and because it is a bit touchy at times, I found myself leaving the room occasionally. I don’t like blood or much violence or action that takes place under water.

Our main character is a mute woman who lives alone but has a lively relationship with her next door neighbor. She works at a secret government lab as a cleaning woman. One day a new ‘asset’ is brought to the lab, a creature that needs to be underwater most of the time.

What government interrogator Michael Shannon plans to do with the creature is unknown. But for the present time, torturing the creature is high on his list.

Elisa and Zelda, Elisa’a black co-worker, are allowed to clean in the locked lab. Sometimes, Elisa has lunch in there and develops a relationship with the creature. She teaches him sign language and they begin to communicate.

This is not a movie for everyone. There is violence and swearing and short bits of nudity. But there are also questions of right and wrong and how we treated people in the early sixties that was supposed to be a time of magical kingdoms. You will be required to think while watching this cinematic spectacle of wonders.

Shape of Water Sally OctaviaThis movie is gorgeous to look at. The sets of Elisa’s and Giles’ apartments are rich and detailed. The lab is retro to what we thought secrets labs should look like if they were housing a creature that required living underwater most of the time.

And our water monster is incredible as well, his gills flying out when angry. His scales coming off after hours of torture and deprivations. Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones as our mute couple display more emotions than we ever see in most Kate Hudson romantic comedies.

I know what I saw and I know that this was a beautifully realized movie. But my head is still pondering and wondering at all of the side details and unspoken commentary about life in the Cold War era. Not everyone was valued, people with good ideas and instincts were discarded because they did not fit the boundaries of normal at that time. Even the Russian spy is never everything we think that person should be.

If you plan to see this movie, be prepared for normal to not be so normal. Be prepared for something weird and out of this world. Be prepared for a fairytale where monsters walk free and others wrangle for that hope of freedom. It is a weird and strange, lovely and beguiling movie. One of my friends told me not to waste my time. I am telling you that if you like the weird and beguiling, this might be the movie for you.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle