The Shape of Water (2017)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
I always argue against the concept of Hate being opposite to Love. I think opposite to Love is Fear. When you love someone, you open up to the possibility of being hurt to an extent. Fear makes people uptight, closed. I think The Shape of Water is a great narrative to this Love Vs Fear concept.
I love Sally Hawkins. She always play very optimistic, lovable, free spirit type of characters (also watch Happy-Go-Lucky). Here she plays Elisa, who is open to new experiences, pleasure of the senses, loves people, and has a pleasure association with water – which may be synonymous to loving life. Her painter neighbor Giles is also like her, loves art and authenticity, knows to look past fear. The antagonist Richard (Michael Shannon) is the stark opposite of her, afraid of failure, losing, perceives pleasure as something bad, racist, lacks empathy, has a sort of rotten heroic theme, obsesses over objects which will make him seem bigger than other people.
Elisa loves this different, other worldly being. She sees the Amphibian Man as she herself is, a loving creature. Richard sees ‘it’ as something dangerous, something beneath him. I think there is a hint of xenophobia inherent in the plot. Another noticeable thing is that when Giles is wounded by the creature, he perceives it as an accident and heals up. Richard was unable to move past the violent incident of losing his two fingers, the wound also didn’t heal. Richard is the embodiment of all the people who cannot outgrow fear. Placing Giles as the narrator of the story, the ending could move past the narrowness of reality.
Also loved how Dr. Hoffstetler & Zelda tried to outgrow the culture of fear. Dr. Hoffstetler tried to outgrow Cold War, the mindset of hating and fearing the other side. Zelda outgrew slave morality by doing the right thing, even if it meant committing sin or breaking the law.
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To me “The Shape of Water” is the best movie of 2017.