Best Picture. Really?
Posted on: March 11, 2018 /
If The Shape of Water represents the best that Hollywood has to offer – poor Hollywood. This film is little more than mediocre. I did not feel a desire to walk out of the theatre during the screening, but I came close.
To start with what’s good about the film. The cinematography is, in many places, simply gorgeous, and manages to be compelling even in prosaic shots of corridors and service tunnels. Then there is the acting performance of Sally Hawkins, sensitive and subtle even without words (she plays a mute).
However the plot is more suited to a comic book than an adult film: the narrative arc is predictable and dull. The characters, apart from Elisa (Hawkins), are cardboard cutouts. Colonel Strickland (played by Michael Shannon) manages to present as a formulaic villain with no redeeming or human qualities whatsoever: even the psycho part is overdrawn to the point of incredulity. Zelda, Elisa’s friend, is likable but basically a stereotyped black sidekick. The General is no more than the predictable Pentagon pinhead, a standard movie portrayal. There are some subtleties in the characters of Elisa’s neighbour George, as well as the Soviet mole Dimitri, but not enough to lift the film from near overwhelming banality. I will not comment on the characterisation of the amphibian man, as you don’t see many of these about. But, to me, ET seemed just as finely crafted in presence and personality.
The Shape of Water is not a bad film. I would have happily watched late at night on Netflix. But to put it in the class of The Artist, or Chicago, or Silence of the Lambs, or Man for All Seasons? Frankly, no.