Film Crit | The Shape Of Water


I went into this film without watching the trailer or reading any reviews at all. I’m so glad I did because I think if I knew the plot beforehand it would have spoilt this one a bit. It was great to experience surprise and this was the general pattern of my thoughts throughout the whole film:

“what??…….oh wow……..ah……..what’s that??……why are they doing that!…….omg…… really!……no waaaaaaay……….ew!……….yes!!! 

There really was so much going on and so many hidden ties and references I think I’d really need to watch it again to absorb more.

It was set in America during the 1950’s, lots of references to black and white inequality – the black couple not being allowed in the cafe, separate seating on the bus, the hosing on the news, the Boss’s attitude.

In the beginning the pace was really slow but not in a boring way, there was lots of puzzle pieces being laid out.

Beautiful cinematography, lots of low-key lighting, dark moody, green tone throughout. There was water in almost every scene – the opening scene, bath, boiling eggs, rain, cleaning, bathroom, tank, glasses of water for pills, the spy meets in the rain. There was also an emphasis on human sounds – footsteps and chewing etc and clocks – time running out.

Even though most of what happened was wrong and evil it was balanced with the gentle approach and the love of two beings.

Elisa was different, mute, innocent, kind, lonely & lost. She was drawn to the fish / merman / God perhaps because it seen her for who she truly was and not her flaws.




What shocked me – Elisa masturbating in the bath (….not quite sure there was a need? well obviously there is a need haha but not necessarily in this film), the cat’s head being eaten and Elisa having sexual relations with the merman/fish.

What I loved – The lighting and attention to detail. When she was first making contact with the merman/fish with the eggs & music, The look of pure content when the neighbour opened the bathroom door to find her cuddling the merman/fish. The gurgly noise the merman/fish made when he was happy.


If I was to sum it up in one word it would be difficult – WEIRD is definitely on the tip of my tongue but as strange as the story was, the way it was shot and directed I have to say it was simply – BEAUTIFUL! The Director Guilllermo del Toro is a genius!