The Shape of Water

Some strong elements combine to achieve less than their sum. A fine cast acts out some hot topics and at the helm is the director possibly trying harder than anyone else today to make movies that look good. It does have its moments but for the most part the whole proceedings travel as if on a conveyer belt straight to where you’d expect them to.

Peter Jackson’s affecting King Kong benchmarked what might have been for this inter-species romance but nothing much seems to be driving The Shape of Water‘s lovers together other than Sally Hawkins’s character being bored and horny and the good-natured merman being up for whatever’s going on, as long as it doesn’t involve being on the receiving end of a cattle prod.

It’s an adventurous film.  Del Toro’s familiar perverse interplay of the grotesque and whimsical has not irked audiences and for reasons debatable it has won Oscars for both best film and direction.  It does look nice but so did Jeunet’s City of Lost Children which, with its gold and pond-green pallette, thick shadows and rippling caustics, this film noticeably resembles.

Sally Hawkins is likable as usual but Michael Shannon does the story’s heavy lifting, which is frequently the villain’s lot.