In the opening scene there’s a tiny fishy thing being self abused in steamy foreplay of underwater cross species propagation. We’re made to appreciate this woman’s isolation, frustration and unnatural affinity for underwater ecstasy. Okay now, just in case you lunkheads arrived late with your X-Large popcorn tubs and missed the slippery foreshadow, we’ll do it again, abuse that little fishy, fishy thing, underwater, underwater sexual pleasure, water, pleasure, sex, nudge, nudge….nudge, nudge….
Now that we’ve got our heroine’s amphibious sexual frustrations flippered up, (I should parenthetically mention here that our heroine has neck scars that resemble ((can you guess?)) well, they distinctly and splashily scream, ((((GILLS!)))) ) how about let’s puddle in some Snidely (I like my hard love silent) Whiplash, a couple evil Russians, the tough no nonsense minority sidekick with a heart of gold, the Russian spy scientist who at the most opportune moment seeks only truth, and a general who makes Jack D. Ripper seem like a happy little guppy. There’s LOTS of really wet rain, LOTS of glistening bulgy things, LOTS of slippery plot mechanics, LOTS of characters that exist for a single scene just in case you missed that last dripping mechanical plot thing turning ever so slipperily over there in the corner.
OH fishshit! I almost forgot. There is also, I kid you not, an out of work, lonely, depressed, balding but very nattily dressed, gay artist!!!! Who at one point hits on the pie serving lonely hearts club guy across the street (insert this scene so everyone knows that the nattily dressed, lonely, depressed, artsy balding guy is, ya know, REALLY GAY!, and, because prejudice). Why is he gay? No, not the “nature/nurture” question, but the “what plot device, socially thematic relevance, dramatically desperate revelation or self-outing for the advancement of slippery people” purpose does he serve? Lemme answer that, none. Unless we’re to understand that the big slippery fella is just not into, ya know, guys, thereby cementing his primitive yet boundary abiding bona fishes. Yeah like I said before, no purpose whatsoever.
No porpoise pretty much sums up my feelings for The Shape of Water. It is beautiful, no doubt. It’s got all the craft of that well tuned saltwater tank bubbling away on display in your dentist’s office. Like said faux flipper keeper, once you look through to the other side you realize it’s all artifish and puddle deep. Retreaded themes grafted to faux gilled heroines with no sense of how or why other then to move the sotted plot forward. Several social sub-themes splashed on because that’s what we do for attention and buckets of soggy cliche poured in because we don’t trust audiences to recognize archetypes much less subtlety or amphiguity. Other then craft the whole thing seemed stale, unoriginal and for lack of anything more sofishticated, silly. I wish they had baited with something a good bit slipperier.