As promising and imagination-stimulating the underwater dance looks like, The Shape of Water has nothing of the supposed poetry its poster image conveys and couldn’t be a more conventional and cliche structured film. All the forces opposed in here - from the ruthless state agent vs the common man, the black suits vs the colourful, the army vs the scientists, the ordinary vs the different, the men vs. the women, efficiency vs. empathy, have been visited by the audience for the umpteenth time. Puzzle pieces are scattered all over the film, for the logic to work later on (the silly neck bruises turned branchia, the writing of the “crime location” on the calendar, the menacing visit by KGB agents to the doctor - so that they kill him not so out of the blue - so that the villain finds out who stole the Monster - from a dying until now brave doctor with nothing to loose - wtf).
The Monster is the film’s G spot, yet, just like in real life, all we seem to know about it is frustratingly little:
- it comes from the Amazon, where the people think of it as a God;
- it likes boiled eggs;
- it posses healing powers ranging from rejuvenating the balding scalp of a secondary character to plain-old patching of bullet wounds;
- has a hidden penis that comes out of a sort of fold, as mimicked by the wonderful Sally Hawkins;
- has a blue glow when something involving emotion-signalling happens;
- is afraid of scared cats, rips the head and tries to eat one - 5 minutes later likes to pet them;
- needs to stay in salty water;
- can breath through two separate respiratory systems.
The film spends just too much time justifying (silent wife, army career, reliable solider) the actions of the man, almost to redeem point - the solid Michael Shannon villain, while giving us only all of the above on the Monster.
It gives us little to nothing on the depth, logic and meaning of love between Monster and Woman, but spends time and resources on a dry dance dream-like sequence which is supposed to give weight to their feelings, but only manages to ridicule them (a gallant Monster extending his mushy hand to invite the Woman on a sequence of waltz spins in b/w with orchestra).
On the positive side, the production design (photo #2) is so coherent and telling - it saves the day.