It’s a wonderful thing when you can watch a film and recognize it as the Director’s Magnum Opus. There’s something to love in everything Del Toro has done, but in “The Shape of Water” he has taken the best elements and combined them into his most well rounded, beautiful, multilayered fairy tale yet.
This is NOT a monster movie, it is NOT a science fiction flick, it is a fantasy, a fairy tale for adults. I also love that you can see so much of Del Toro’s personality in the film. He believes that the best people in life are the creative outcasts. The ones who don’t fit neatly in the boxes that have been made for them. The broken, the lonely, the dreamers, THOSE are the people you should fill your life with, as these value life the most and have the most to offer. Del Toro also had a strong Catholic upbringing, which always has an influence in his films. What’s interesting in “The Shape of Water” is religion is referenced only by the villainous Michael Shannon character. Fascinatingly, he uses the same biblical story twice in the movie, but each time twists it to suit his purpose, which is intimidating those who don’t “fit” into the world as he sees it. We’re also given a glimpse into his personal life, which perfectly fits the “Perfect American Family” of the 50s. A home, mortgage, 2.5 kids, overly supportive housewife, brand new Cadillac and a successful husband is exactly what everyone thought they should have. But all of that is but a veneer over a hellishly empty existence.
Some have soured over one or two unexpected scenes in the film, but consider: This is a fantasy, a parable! If you can accept similar plot points in “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Little Mermaid”, and “La La Land”, why can’t the same be expressed in this film?