Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.
So, here is what I watched this past week:
The Shape of Water
Guillermo del Toro is a master of the science fiction and fantasy genres. His films often look at strange creatures and monsters who are more genuine and real than the human-monsters who chase them. With The Shape of Water, del Toro makes a natural progression from his creature features of the recent past to one that centers around an unlikely romance between a mute woman and creature from the South American rainforest.
Sally Hawkins stars as Elisa Esposito, a member of a cleaning crew at a secret government facility. Along with her friend and translator Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer), she leads a rather simple life, waking each morning to make hard-boiled eggs, take a pleasurable bath, and spend time with her artist neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins). After a regimented ex-military officer (Michael Shannon) arrives at the facility with a strange creature (Doug Jones) in tow, her curiosity leads her to the creature’s tank where she forms a fast friendship with him, bringing him eggs and introducing him to music, one of Elisa’s few sources of genuine pleasure.
Del Toro is a fascinating filmmaker. His vast imagination helps fill reality-based locations into strange locales. A franchise pie shop has a dark, almost sinister feel; the old movie theater above which Elisa and Giles live is a mammoth space of once-opulent grandness; a simple military facility is transformed into a fantastical science lab. Production design and costume design become characters of their own in his myriad visions with The Shape of Water feeling the most down-to-earth of his entire oeuvre.
Hawkins is luminscent as the Elisa, filling her life and the lives of those around her with positive energy, a ray of light in a world where Communism, racism, homophobia, and myriad other ills have seeped into the American landscape. Even the sinister Russian spy syndicate is given a humanistic guise in the form of a compassionate doctor (Michael Stuhlbarg). Each performance is meticulously enlivened.
If there’s a flaw in the film it’s that the story moves too quickly, almost inorganically. The plot moves quickly even while taking its time. Natural evolution of character is rushed in an effort to get this fantastical story to its ordained conclusion. You almost know precisely where each plot twist will turn, yet clues that seem obvious at first, are dropped unceremoniously, leading to the perception that a two-and-a-half-hour movie was compressed to two hours in a vain effort to appeal to antsy audiences.