I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Shape of Water

(may contain traces of spoilers)

THE SHAPE OF WATER is kinda like Guillermo del Toro’s version of AMELIE, and obviously in his version Amelie fucks a sea monster. Sally Hawkins (NEVER LET ME GO, GODZILLA) plays Elisa, a mute (but not deaf) lady living a quirky life in Cold War era Baltimore. Her apartment is above a beautiful one-screen movie theater showing THE STORY OF RUTH. Her next door neighbor and best friend Giles (Richard Jenkins, BLUE STEEL) is a gay painter of magazine advertisements who lives with a bunch of cats. In the opening scene, a nearby chocolate factory is on fire, so he’s even given an impression of how the place smells (shoulda seen it in 4DX).

Elisa’s job is mopping floors in an aerospace research lab, and one night the bosses bring in “The Asset” (Doug Jones, FANTASTIC 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER), a creature from the unspecified lagoon in a metal tube, for top secret experiments. Elisa and her co-worker friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer, HALLOWEEN II, DRAG ME TO HELL) don’t see it at first, but they hear its roar and have to clean up its bloody mess when it removes two fingers from sadistic head of security Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon, BAD BOYS II) without getting his permission.

We all know del Toro loves his creatures, and we’ll get to that. He also delights in contrasting them against depraved monsters of the human variety. Strickland is one of these, an aggressive bully who likes to talk about “signs of weak character” and the brand and stats of the cattle prod he carries around. You know you’re a bad person if you have a little speech prepared about your favorite candy that you can suddenly go into while intimidating somebody so they’ll think “Oh good, he changed the subject to candy all the sudden, I don’t understand why but maybe we are going to eat candy now or something” and then “Oh no, I should’ve known, he only brought up the candy as an analogy for his philosophy of brutal torture.”

This is a romance and people are calling it an “adult fairy tale,” so I was surprised (but shouldn’t have been) that del Toro still finds novel ways to make us wince. So it’s a sweet movie but yes, a guy puts his finger through the bullet hole in somebody’s cheek. And the creature indulges in the graphic cat eating that the tv show ALF always hinted at but never delivered.

Anyway Elisa starts sneaking into the room to have her lunch, which turns into feeding the creature hard boiled eggs, which turns into playing him Benny Goodman records and tap dancing and teaching him sign language, which turns into finding out they’re planning to dissect him and putting together a scheme to bust him out.

Of course there’s other shit going on. One of the scientists (Michael Stuhlbarg, MILES AHEAD) is actually a Russian agent, but when he’s supposed to kill the creature he switches sides (not to the red white and blue – to the green and scaly). And Giles has a whole interesting arc as a lonely gay man who deliberately tries to ignore the troubles of the world. He watches old musicals all day and all but covers his ears singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” when there’s a news report about the white supremacist power structure spraying civil rights activists with firehoses. But a concise little side story opens his eyes and propels him to help Elisa, offering his skills as an illustrator for fake IDs and work van logos.

As a freelancer, Giles paints magazine ads about aggressively All-American families enjoying Jello molds. It’s one of my favorite touches of the movie that when Strickland goes home his orange furnishings and perky wife (Lauren Lee Smith, TRICK ‘R TREAT) and kids look straight out of that bullshit advertising fantasyland. Giles makes his living selling the idea of this world he could never be allowed into, and the guy who does get to be in it is a racist, sexually-harassing sadist who does not seem fulfilled by it, judging by the scene where he puts a bloody hand over his wife’s mouth during sex so he can imagine she’s the mute mop lady from work.

Giles really comes through for Elisa, but I gotta say, Zelda is one of the most understanding friends who ever lived. Not only does she cover for her at work and reluctantly help with the breakout, but when she finds out Elisa fucked the sea monster she doesn’t even throw up, it’s more of a “Girl, good for you!” type of reaction.

Elisa tries keeping him in her bath tub, but that’s not gonna cut it for too long, and it would be wrong to sell him to Sea World or something, so she plans to FREE WILLY him in the river when the rains fill it up enough. So it’s all about looking at the clouds hoping the rain comes soon enough to get him to safety before ol’ cattleprod can find him, but late enough that Elisa gets to spend more time with her sea-sweetie.

I’m pretty sure this comes out of del Toro’s long-mentioned-in-interviews dream of a CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON remake where it’s a love story and the creature is an Amazonian god. I’d guess that would’ve been more of a jungle adventure, and this is the urban romance version. Like so many del Toro monsters this is a strong physical performance by the lanky Jones under incredible makeup (this time by Legacy Effects). It’s similar to Abe Sapien from HELLBOY, but reveals other features like fins and frills that open up and patches under the skin that can glow. We also hear how his junk works, which I’m sure is heavily detailed in del Toro’s famous journals, but we don’t see it.

Now, I’ve got an ending spoiler to discuss below that somewhat alleviates the prudish argument that I’m about to make, but I’m just gonna come out and say it: I was not totally on board with Elisa fucking a sea monster. I kept thinking that this is not that different from if she worked at a lab that had a gorilla that knew sign language, and she took it to her apartment and fucked it.

A friend pointed out that his healing powers make him more than Koko the gorilla, they make him a god. But #1, she already thinks she’s in love with him before she knows that, and #2 it still doesn’t prove he has a higher brain function than just knowing how to ask for eggs. Is that really our standard for human-level intelligence? It’s not even like he could specify scrambled or sunny side up. For all we know he doesn’t even know that sign means egg, it might be “food” or “feed me” or “hungry” to him. We have no idea. Does he know these eggs come from chickens, and that Elisa has boiled them in water to make them solid? Absolutely not. And that means it’s too early to seal the deal in my opinion.

And furthermore – I apologize for bringing this up, but this is America and we have freedom of speech – E.T. had healing powers too, and had more sophisticated communication skills than The Asset, and I’m confident that with some tutoring from Elliott he could easily pass the Egg Comprehension Test. But I still don’t think I’d be comfortable with Elliott’s mom taking E.T. to bed. Sure, fine, Elliott would be excited to have him as his stepdad. But nobody wants to think about E.T. having sex, and especially with a human woman or man. So I’m sorry I brought it up but really THE SHAPE OF WATER brought it up in my opinion.

This brings me to my ENDING SPOILERS for people who have seen the movie. Elisa has those scars on her neck, supposedly an injury that severed her vocal cords. And in the end, at least by Giles’s telling, ol’ sexy Asset turns them into gills so they can live happily ever after under the sea (darling it’s better down where it’s wetter take it from me).

I took this to be him using his god powers to turn her injury into an asset, but my lady explained it to me. Elisa was an orphan, found by the river, she dreams of water, she’s attracted to a fucking sea monster… all this add ups to she was not born a land dweller. She had gills that grew over and her man has now healed them.

I felt dumb that I didn’t pick up on that, but in a small non-scientific survey I found that the men I talked to didn’t follow it either, but the women did. The men didn’t like the idea, but I did, because it made it seem less like that guy in Enumclaw that thought he had a special connection with his horse. If they actually come from the same unknown species then maybe there really is some kind of deeper communication and understanding going on than just “egg.” I hope. And I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be some Archie Bunker type stopping land people from falling in love with mermaids. I will try to have an open mind and keep up with the times. But I want to be sure that the relationship is consensual.

Once I got over that hangup I was able to appreciate it more as a nice beauty-and-the-beautiful-beast tale. It’s del Toro’s most heartfelt and precise storytelling in quite some time, so if you’re into his stuff you may love it. It’s a sweet story about love and friendship and the little guy or gal triumphing over the assholes, the bigots, the phonies, the people who have no respect for the ancient, the mysterious, the strange.

I don’t know if there’s a name for this, but I love the feeling of watching a movie that surprises you when it reveals the true meaning of its title. If the phrase “the shape of water” sounds kinda poetic to you that’s because it’s literally a line from a love poem. When it all comes together and you understand exactly what those words are describing it’s such a moment of pure, perfect beauty that it’s almost a shame some territories changed the title to SPLASH 2: I FUCKED A SEA MONSTER. [citation needed]

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018 at 10:48 am and is filed under Monster, Reviews, Romance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

149 Responses to “The Shape of Water”

  1. The weird thing is, this ending sounds way less fucked up than the actual ending of feel-good hit of 1984 SPLASH, where Tom Hanks goes to live under the sea with Daryl Hannah but as far as the movie lets you know he can only breathe down there when he’s in contact with her. This is one lady with all the leverage in their relationship. (I assume her proximity also makes it possible for his skin to stay underwater indefinitely without rotting off but this is not addressed by the film critics inexplicably did NOT call “a Kafkaesque romantic nightmare.”)

    Dan Prestwich just described this movie to me as “dangerously close to being about a lady who has sex with her dog because it showed her some affection” so I don’t think you’re the only one who didn’t quite buy the romance del Toro was selling. I figure it’s like that part in NIGHTBREED you always bring up where Clive Barker is like, “C’mon, dudes, don’t deny it, you know you all want to fuck a porcupine monster.” One of those moments where you kinda feel like the auteur is assuming a bit too much universality in their individual peccadillos.

  2. WARNING haven’t seen this one yet and thus this is one those ‘about me’ posts that doesn’t really add anything to the discussion.

    Not long ago this would have been a ‘see it as soon as humanly possible’ one for me but then del Toro went and made three horrible movies in a row and now I went from a guy whose been following him since his debut CHRONOS to thinking I should maybe start avoiding his movies altogether. The universal praise this one is getting doesn’t get to me because as a ‘friend of the Internet’ his last three movies got universal praise and people immediately deemed at least one of them masterpieces. I’ve seen every del Toro in theater but so far it’s looking like this will be the first I may skip and just wait for video.

  3. I’m with you, geoff. I want to see what he comes up with and I will no doubt enjoy hearing him talk about it, just like I’d enjoy hearing him talk about his stamp collection or which brand of grape jelly he prefers, but it’s seeming more and more like the actual movies he makes are just ancillary product attached to the special features.

  4. Based on the backstory, I kept waiting for the big reveal that Elisa was a long-lost female of Not!Abe Sapien’s species, but the movie, in my opinion, did not deliver.

    Of course I missed the last five minutes of the movie due to a bathroom break, but my girlfriend, who was attending with me, also did not interpret the ending that way, so I don’t know what that tells you. Maybe we’re just a pair of Stricklands.

  5. Am I the only one, who really wants to see a movie named NEVER LET ME GO, GODZILLA?

  6. I mean, wouldn’t that more or less describe this movie?

  7. CJ:

    Mr. M: I agree. You listen to his commentaries and he is describing a COMPLETELY different (and MUCH better sounding) movie than what he made. Listen to his commentary during the stick fight training in PACIFIC RIM for the best example.

  8. No joke, the stick fighting is my favorite part of PACIFIC RIM.

    I…do not like PACIFIC RIM very much.

  9. I also wanna point out that I actually saw a porn version of E.T. once and no, it wasn’t a beautiful sight.

  10. I’m not sure I’m buying the “she was already a sea creature” theory, either. they make it pretty clear that the creature from the blue lagoon will die if he stays out of water too long. so, at the very least, if it’s not supposed be that the creature turns Elisa’s scars into gills and instead they were supposed to be gills all along, she’s still a different species of water-dweller. and we’re back at the same bestiality conundrum, with the same problem that she seems to have human intelligence and he doesn’t, and we have no way of knowing if he can really consent.

    it’s icky, I thought, and I’m someone who loves weird and transgressive sex in movies. but this movie keeps telling me that the monster sex is sweet and romantic and not fucked up, or at least darkly funny, like it probably should.

    but honestly, I hated this movie for reasons far beyond it’s weird pro-pet-fucking stance. it’s an overstuffed narrative mess, it never earns or develops the (gross) central romance that the entire story hinges on, most of the actors who aren’t Richard Jenkins are giving career worst performances (especially Michael Shannon, who I have literally never not loved in anything), it’s satire of the era is broad and simplistic and never funny, and it’s obvious and heavy-handed in all of its themes. it’s a fairy tale for adults, which is not a thing that needs to exist. fairy tales are simplistic, sometimes allegorical stories, specifically dumbed down because children are stupid and should be treated thusly, not because it’s a good way to tell a story. as an adult, I don’t exactly demand sophistication from my entertainment and I’m certainly not above enjoying things that are stupid or juvenile, but I also have no need for stories painted this broadly that spoon-feed every basic idea and uncomplicated emotion to me.

  11. you know how after the truth about Louis CK was finally confirmed and everyone started seeing signs of it everywhere in his work? I’m now convinced that one day we’re going to find out that Guillermo del Toro puts peanut butter on his dick so his dog will lick it off, and thinks it’s fine because the dog seems to enjoy it.

    I’m kidding, but in all seriousness, people who sexually abuse their pets will find a lot to love about THE SHAPE OF WATER.

  12. “A gay painter of magazine advertisements who lives with a bunch of cats” does seem like a role Jenkins would knock out of the park.

  13. Many fairy tales originated as pornographic stories for adults. Just saying.

  14. It’s almost impossible for Jenkins not to be good. He acquitted himself well here and ends up as the only remotely likable, relatable character in the movie.

    His non-monster subplot, on the other hand, is pretty lousy and rivals MAD MEN in its insufferable air of “look at how smart and progressive and superior we are by criticizing the culture of 60’s American in the most obvious way possible.” You did it, guys! You really took the 60’s down a peg!

  15. They don’t care whose toes they step on!

  16. Richard Jenkins is the only celebrity street sighting I had in NYC when I lived in NJ for six months. For that totally weird and random reason he holds a special place in my heart. I’m sure that wouldn’t be the case if he was a terrible actor, though.

    I haven’t seen this one yet, but I watched CRIMSON PEAK last night and boy, was it awful. I knew going into it that I may not like it, based on what I’d heard, but I was in the mood for something gothic and pretty. It was wonderfully filmed, but nothing that really blew me away. *SPOILER* The icky sibling sex angle in that one was so the opposite of shocking that I keep going back and forth on if it was supposed to be. It seems like it was should have been, but every beat in that movie felt trite and like dead people knew what was going to happen (ghost pun not intended). Chastain did give an amazing performance, but overall it didn’t leave me for a lot of desire to run out and see this one.

  17. This film is just Beauty and The Beast meet The Creature from The Black Lagoon, if the princess wanted to fuck the beast and he didn’t transformed in the end to a human would that be disgusting?

    It’s funny how the idea for this film came from the disappointment Del Toro had as child that the Creature didn’t end up with the lady in The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

    I wonder if he draw porn of it when he was a teenager.

  18. Ghost,

    Not to get too into the weeds on this, but the Beast was formerly human, still clearly has a human personality and intellect, and can speak and give consent. The creature in this movie is deliberately animalistic (even described as a wild animal by Jenkins), cannot clearly communicate and frankly seems more like a really smart dog than a human. So I don’t think your analogy works for the complaint than I’m levying.

  19. I should add that while my expectations for a del Toro movie have gotten pretty low, I’ll still see every movie he ever makes. Even when I don’t like the whole, they’re still full of great parts.

  20. In defense of Del Toro: He doesn’t have any movies not worth seeing, only ones that work and ones that don’t but are still more interesting then anything around them. He is an original with a signature, and unlike Abrams and Jonson he knows how take part in a franchise without ruing it: Blade 2 was best of the Blade Movies and the Hellboy movies are loved by the original author and his fans, unlike other recent franchise.

    I defense of Shape of Water: It is not a porn movie about I FUCKED A SEA MONSTER, there are more levels to it then that. The sea monster is a metaphor for being oppressed, for being a minority. It is odd that you chose the Micheal Shanon point of view here, of the oppressor, and not of the oppressed: the black and gay people in this movie, the cleaning ladies that are analogs to the creature story. That’s why these sub plots are there: to tell you not judge others that are different from you. The same way you can say KING KONG is porn with a guerrilla but you will be wrong.

  21. I’m a huge fan of Florence + the Machine and, given how obsessed she is with water in her music*, am disappointed that they didn’t have her do a song for the end credits of this movie. I’m sure I’ll love it just fine without, but it seems like a missed opportunity.

    * How obsessed with water imagery is she? When I put her most recent album in for the first time in mid-November (after sitting on my shelf for two and a half years), I waited to see how long it would take to show up. Second line of the very first song. (‘Don’t touch the sleeping pills, they mess with my head/Dredging the Great White Sharks, swimming in the bed…’) Of course, if I’d read the title of the song, Ship to Wreck, I wouldn’t have even bothered. (I don’t get around to listening to new music very often, I listen to full albums, and I rarely look at song titles.)

  22. I haven’t actually seen the film, so I just imagine it as Abe Sapien doing it with the cleaning lady. Hellboy get some so why not Abe Sapien. Now this creature might be more animalistic than Abe Sapien and not have the human personality that he has.

    I heard Del Toro saying this is his Beauty and The Beast which is why I threw in that comparision. I knew Del Toro wish that the Beast didn’t turn into a human, or wasn’t a human at all. Del Toro like monsters and creatures (fantastical not animals), more than humans, which is why he likes to bring a sympathic view to them.

  23. el loco: PACIFIC RIM is firmly in the “total waste of time” bracket for me, with CRIMSON PEAK being worth seeing only for major late-period Tim Burton fans who want something a little less challenging.

    I love the Gill-man, weird science, and magical realism done with intelligence and restraint, and consequently have zero interest in seeing this new Del Toro joint on the basis that the dude had $100 mil to make a kaiju-derived flick and managed to whiff on literally everything that makes that subgenre a joy, and then managed to pull off the same feat two years later with gothic horror. Dude’s shit just isn’t for me.

  24. zero-mentality – I don’t have a problem with Crimson Tide, I think it is a great and underrated movie. Pacific Rim is a disappointment on many levels, but far from being a complete waste of time: even the haters here say it was shot beautifully. It has some great action scenes and ideas that didn’t translate to a great movie but it is better then any Bay’s Transformer movie that I know of.

  25. Now that there has been more agreement than expected, I feel like I need to point out that most of the people who love it are not taking it as literally as we are. They don’t necessarily want to fuck a sea monster, but enjoy the symbolic sentiment of everyone finding a soul mate and unique and different people being appreciated and etc. I did wonder if it was a little presumptuous of del Toro as a male to think “Yeah, I’m sure a lady would fuck a sea monster,” but having not seen any women bothered by the idea I’m sure it’s fine.

  26. Vern – You can say KING KONG is about a girl who fucks a big ape but I don’t remember anyone saying it is not a classic.
    If you take those types of movies literally you miss the whole point. They are not only sentimental love stories they are also not-sentimental-at-all political dramas about race and gender. And what is the point of being a movie critic if you just take movies like KING KONG or SHAPE OF WATER literally?

  27. Also, sorry, can’t help it, why is Jonson’s giant caw in TSJ is cool and Del Toro is not?

  28. El loco-
    Something tells me you’ve never seen King Kong.

  29. CJ, believe it or not, I too have seen parts of that ET porno. i find that porn can be disturbing for any number of reasons, but this one is disturbing in its own special way. It’s up there with that “pterodactyls” one, only much worse.

    For the uninitiated: there is a 1980s German porno movie called Extraterrestrial, and from what I’ve observed, it’s about a human-sized female ET lookalike who comes to Earth and does it with some guys. By “lookalike” i mean the costume makes the actress wearing it look like a fully nude burn victim wearing an off-brand ET mask. It’s staggeringly off-putting.

  30. King King is probably a much better analog than the Beast.

    Dan Prestwich: I suppose they could be of the same species but males and females have drastically different physical characteristics. It does happen, and there are some particularly gnarly aquatic examples.

    Either way it’s a fucking awesome interpretation that never in a million years would have occurred to me, and it makes me like the whole movie quite a bit more. Not least because it reminds me of Sally Kellerman’s implied wing-removal as revealed through glimpses of the scars on her back in BREWSTER MCCLOUD.

    Any other movies where a mysterious scar functions to reveal the non-human origin of a character?

  31. Marcellus Wallace?

  32. El loco,

    Trust me, my good man, no one here is missing the metaphor in The Shape of Water. It would be impossible to, since the movie lays it on pretty thick. It’s just that the story also exists on a literal level, and on that level I’m a little uncomfortable with a human woman getting bizzay with her cat eating, nonlingual, animalistic, pet fishmonsterman.

    Also I think the metaphor kinda sucks, especially since the movie relegates the characters who were actually being oppressed at the time to being broadly-drawn side characters.

    Side note: Faye Wray never fucked Kong, I don’t even want to imagine how that would have worked.

  33. I don’t trust you on that my good man, I think you are bulshiting. I mean maybe you got it and hated it because you hate progressive themes in your movies and tv shows, and even if it something back grounding like Madmen you will hate and call it obvious. So maybe stick to Chuck Norris movies.
    If all you got from this movie is that the sea monster is disgusting and why he is fucking with a white woman you sound like the president saying all Mexicans are rapists, you sound like someone who is hateful and afraid from people different then him, from the ‘other’: gay, black, woman or immigrant. Because this is the metaphor in the movie, you claim you to understand. either you didn’t get it and pretending to, or worse, you got it, and you feel more like the bigot in the movie played by Shannon then the cleaning ladies the black and the gays. You sound like that the owner in movie who ban black and gay people and hate progress.
    You obviously don’t understand nothing about King Kong too because it is not literal enough for you.

  34. Well el loco seems to be living up to his username at least.

  35. “I did wonder if it was a little presumptuous of del Toro as a male to think Yeah, I’m sure a lady would fuck a sea monster”

    I’m sure if del Toro ever doubted the legitimiacy of his story, he only had to spend five minutes looking at fanart on Tumblr or DeviantArt to feel okay about that. (Yeah, Bronies are creepy, but did anybody ever bother to check what fantasy creatures some of the ladies are into? I have some sexually very open female friends and therefore know how kinky and pervy women can be, but sheesh…some fangirls are really creeping me out!)

  36. el loco: I know Dan Prestwich. I’ve never met anyone with a wider breadth of cinematic interests in my life. So if he says he got the subtleties of this movie, trust me, he got it. You understand that it’s possible to “get” a movie and still not like it, right?

    Stop trying to turn everyone who disagrees with you into an enemy. That shit flies on the rest of the internet but we don’t do that here. I appreciate your passion but you are rapidly burning your bridges, man.

  37. El loco,

    You understand that I can agree with a movie’s message while not liking the movie or how it presents that message, right?

    I feel like maybe you’re being deliberately obtuse here, but just in case: my complaints about the fishman sex have nothing to do with my feelings about oppressed minority groups, and everything to do with my feelings on sexual consent and animal abuse. I get that Del Toro had other things on his mind, but the literal story he’s telling didn’t quite sit right with me.

  38. el loco – I’m not sure what you’re mad at me for this time. You are replying directly to a comment where I said the movie isn’t meant to be taken so literally by accusing me of taking the movie too literally. I like both KING KONG and THE SHAPE OF WATER. You can read my positive-though-skeptical-of-monster-fucking SHAPE review above or look up my rave of the Peter Jackson version of KONG from when it came out. And I don’t know what you meant by “giant caw” so I can’t answer that one.

  39. Circling back to Vern’s earlier comment: No doubt other people don’t seem to be bothered by this. I saw it with 3 friends (a lady and 2 dudes), and while they had a mix of reactions to the film itself, none of them found it icky or morally questionable. And while I’m a little shocked to be, maybe for the first time in my life, the prudish one, let me also be clear right now that I don’t have a problem with anyone who doesn’t share my objections. I’m definitely joking when I accused Del Toro of being a dogfucker. If anything, he’s a creature from the black lagoonfucker, which isn’t even possible.

    I imagine it wouldn’t have bothered me so much if the film had sold me on the romantic relationship, but in true fairy tale fashion, fishman and gillgirl fall in love because the story dictates it and not because of anything that actually happens in the movie. There’s, I think, 2 scenes of them sorta hanging out together where she feeds him an egg and plays him music, and from that point on we are just supposed to take the movie’s word for it that they are soulmates, or something. It’s a very childhood fantasy take on love, and I’m just not engaged by that, or interested in seeing love depicted that way in a movie ostensibly for adults.

    If they had actually developed the romantic relationship, that would have most likely meant humanizing the fishman more and while it still probably wouldn’t have worked for me (I just don’t often go for this kind of cutesy, whimsical bullshit), it would have negated my objections. But the fishman is alien and unknowable, and I’m not so susceptible cloying, treacly film scores and and overly-precious visual design that I could go with the flow and accept their romance just because Del Toro told me to.

  40. Random-ish question: Would y’all be more on board with it, if this was a joint by some more radical filmmaker (Leo Carax, Takashi Miike) or maybe even a first-timer, instead of a mainstream director (with admittedly arthouse credibility) like del Toro?

  41. She can’t speak when on land, therefore she is THE LITTLE MERMAID.

    Nobody had a problem with terrestrial/aquatic sex in that one.

  42. CJ,

    In the sense that I didn’t care for Del Toro’s approach to the material, yeah. I probably would have gotten more from a version of this movie that made the romance deliberately bizarre and offputting, rather than the cutesy way it’s done here.

    But he’s made movies I’ve admired before and I’m willing to bet he will again. In fact, this is the only one of his movies besides MIMIC that I flat out did not enjoy; I’ve found worth in everything else, even the ones I was mixed on. He has a lot of visual imagination and some real filmmaking chops, but SHAPE OF WATER highlighted the problems I feel he’s always had with story and character.

    I actually wish he’d stick to the mainstream more; BLADE 2 and HELLBOY 2 are, by a wide margin, my favorite of his movies, in part because the thin characterizations and broad storytelling are less detrimental to big budget action/adventure movies. I know I’m in the minority here, though. I liked PAN’S LABYRINTH but never understood the rapturous reception it received, largely because I also thought it was kinda shallow and had hollow characters, and relied on transparent emotional manipulation that I didn’t find very effective.

  43. My biggest fear with seeing this movie and Mother! Is that I’ll find out I agree with Rex Reed.

  44. I’m a bit surprised that some of you seem legitimately bothered by the sea creature sex in this. It only works at all because it’s an absurd idea (and Del Toro knows it), but the movie manages the trick of selling it emotionally anyway. El Loco is going way too far with his bigotry accusations. Nevertheless, the scene is at once metaphoric AND literal, and for me, that’s why it works.

    Vern is absolutely correct with his AMELIE comparison. This is Del Toro’s Jeunet film, both in its outsider-empathy and its visual design.

  45. And the creature indulges in the graphic cat eating that the tv show ALF always hinted at but never delivered.

    LOL

  46. Right. She dwells on land and cannot speak (LITTLE MERMAID), she’s a janitor (CINDERELLA), and she’s into fish people (TROY MCCLURE). It’s a delightful mashup.

    Seriously though I liked this movie very much. Best Del Toro I’ve seen in quite a while (he’s very hit or miss to me). I had a lot of fun watching it.

  47. Vern, Majestyk & Parovich – I will try to be more coherent this time around. I didn’t call you bigots. But If you keep on focusing on the bigot point of view, of how it is wrong for a white woman to fuck with the the sea monster, you should explain why you choose to do that, stand behind what you say. this point of view was at least 80% of the review and same in the comments. I tried to understand why you adopt this point of view – not in real life, but regarding the movie. Since we already established that we are not bigots and that we all understand the allegory here, and that you don’t take those types of movies literally, why adopt that point of view, the bigot point of view in order to explain why you don’t like the movie? Is it a Breitbart movie review parody that went over my head?
    Also, I was talking about this thing with tits for balls from TLJ, the thala-sirens. Why exactly we needed that information in that movie? If you needed to complain on things like that for 80% of the review TLJ was the right place: who wants that fucking puppet? wanna buy? Why we needed to see Luke like this in that position? How is this helpful in anyway? what is that all means?
    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Thala-siren

  48. el loco, if you are intentionally trolling, it’s time to go somewhere else. This is not that kind of place. If you are not trolling and seriously think I spent 80% of the review complaining that a merman-american defiled the purity of a white woman, please re-read the review and then come back here and profusely apologize for the insult. Obviously nobody said shit about her being white, we just think it’s funny that there’s a movie where a human fucks a cat-eating sea animal that seems about as intelligent as a dog or a seal. This is not a concept that requires further explaining, and there will be none.

  49. Vern, I didn’t troll you, I’m sorry if you feel that way. I asked you a valid question and instead of answering me, or not, you are calling me a troll.
    Let me break down your review for you so you see I am not trolling:
    1. First ten paragraphs you introduce the plot, the characters, Del Toro and Jones history. You don’t say much about what you think the movie is about, its main theme. You suggest it in the first sentence when you say it is about Amilie fucking a sea monster. And then in the 8th paragraph when you say
    “Zelda is one of the most understanding friends who ever lived. Not only does she cover for her at work and reluctantly help with the breakout, but when she finds out Elisa fucked the sea monster she doesn’t even throw up, it’s more of a “Girl, good for you!” type of reaction.”
    Now that’s an odd thing to say since Giles and Hoffstetler understand Elisa fucking a sea monster and help her too. Also, on the symbolic level it is obvious why Zelda, who is told during the movie that she is not close to image of god as the white man, will do that and help Elisa and the sea monster, not just because she is a good friend, on the plot level.
    2. In the last eight paragraphs you talk about what you think the movie is about and how you feel about it. And it is all about why is it okay for Elisa to fuck the sea monster and how is the sea monster is not human and more animal, it is all about an argument that you yourself call ‘prudish’ and ‘Archie Bunker’. First you say why you think the sea monster is not a god – a thing that even Strickland understands by the end of the movie – and how he is less intelligent then a humans and how man don’t like the sea monster fucking and how the women do. And that is basically what you had to say about what this movie is about. In the last two short paragraphs you compliment Del Toro and say that if you are a fan of his work you will enjoy it. But the last sentence of the review, like in the first, you crack a joke, and it is what you think the movie is about, about why it is wrong for a human to fuck a sea monster, the way that Strickland and the others bigots in the movie feel.

  50. Long answer: Because just because something has a metaphor doesn’t mean that metaphor makes sense. Yes, the fishman is a symbol of forbidden love in a repressive society, but it’s literal characterization (in the opinion of many–I have not seen the movie, a point you seem to consistently ignore) is apparently that of an animal that lacks human intelligence. That changes the text enough to skew the subtext. Nobody here (since the double-banning of Amazing Larry, at least) would make this argument if the creature was shown to possess demonstrable sentience. Obviously, del Toro was purposely towing this line. It wouldn’t really scratch his subversion itch if the fishman was as clearly intelligent as Abe Sapien. So this confusion and discomfort is a feature of the story.

    Short answer: If you’re calling Vern a bigot, go fuck yourself. I’m done trying to treat you like a reasonable human being.

  51. I didn’t call Vern a bigot, I repeated that point again and again, so if you suggest that without even seeing the movie an knowing what we are talking about, you can go fuck yourself.

  52. Also, Majestyk, it interesting that you are trying to dehumanize someone with different opinion from you, just because I disagree with your guru. At least have the decency to see the movie and know what you are talking about before calling other people trolls.

  53. I thought you were better then that…

  54. No, you just stated that he agrees with bigots and is on the side of bigots and thinks like a bigot and is essentially no different than a bigot. But no, you didn’t call him a bigot. You walked him up to a mirror with a Post-It stuck to it that said THIS IS WHAT A BIGOT LOOKS LIKE, but did you call him one? No, certainly not.

    I tried with you, loco, but you don’t know how to argue in good faith. This is a fuckin’ story. There are different interpretations, different points of view, different tastes. Not everything affects everyone the same way. What a glorious thing that is! Otherwise we’d just be giving each other hand jobs about how much we agree with each other. You don’t give a shit about that, though, because you’ve decided the One True Way, and any dissension, no matter how mild, makes the dissenter an infidel, a defiler, an enemy. I don’t know how much of that is really your fault. You seem pretty young, so slash-and-burn might be the only form of discourse you’ve ever known. That’s not really anybody’s problem but yours, though. We are under no obligation to tolerate you. I’ve played the Lunatic Whisperer around here before and usually come to some sort of understanding (AsimovLives and I pretty much became fight brothers despite getting pretty nasty with each other at one point) but I just don’t have it in me to do it anymore. If you want to insult and belittle this community I care about because it doesn’t feel the correct way about fish-fucking, well, you can do it by yourself.

  55. Just great, guys. Look who our acrimony summoned.

  56. Dan— Just doing a little online EOD tech work. Not sticking around.

  57. Amazing Larry is like the pink slime in GHOSTBUSTERS II.

  58. I miss all the threads that lead to people getting banned. Finally found one.

    El Loco, why so angry?

  59. I got kind of a Crying Freeman thing going where I battle ferociously and then feel bad about it afterward. I just shouldn’t post first thing in the morning. I wake up angry as a newborn baby and then mellow with my first cup of coffee and regret all the carnage I left behind. So while I think el loco is real fuckin’ out of line, telling someone to top fuck themselves over a movie is not chill. So I apologize for the unpleasantness.

  60. “I got kind of a Crying Freeman thing going…”

    The original manga, anime, or one of the live action adaptations?

  61. I’ve only seen the Mark Dacascos version, so that one.

  62. el loco, I feel like you don’t understand my humor.

  63. Skani’s first law of trolling: If you find yourself in a position where you frequently have to deny being a troll, then you’re being a troll.

  64. Vern, I know your sense of hummer and your political views too. I just didn’t understand it here, why is this joke from a bigot point of view is all you have to say on Shape of Water main theme, the irony was lost on me. You don’t have to explain it if you don’t want to, you can talk only with people who completely agree with you if you find that interesting. I’m not here to offend you, only strive to perfection. I just asked a legitimate question you keep on dodging, but that’s ok with me, I said what had to say if you don’t want to defend you review it is fine with me.

  65. I am 100% against people vs fish people sex. I’m a bigot against monsters I guess.

  66. Boy, did this comment section take some unexpected turns.

  67. I watched HELLBOY again last night to get back on the Del Toro train after the disappointing CRIMSON PEAK. I almost just typed CRIMSON TIDE – that would’ve been quite the mash up! I am now ready to give fishmonstermen a chance. Unlike some of the bigots around here. Too soon?

  68. Long time lurker… This thread reminds me a bit of the AICN Zoo talkbacks.

  69. Film Noir — Except I don’t think the guy who claimed to be fucking his horses kept calling people “bigots” for not being on board with it.

  70. The notion that Shape of Water is somehow a pro zoofilia movie, and that that Del Toro is some Fish or dog fucker sounds like dirt that Breitbart will try to smear “Liberal Hollywood” with.
    This point of view is clearly wrong in the movie on a literal level too: right before he dies the bigot realizes that the amphibian man is a god superior to him, and not a fish inferior to him.

  71. Why does the fish dude gotta be a higher being than the human? Sounds anti-human propaganda to me.

  72. Sternshein – Just like some black or Indian or Jew or Asian or woman dude can be superior to you on many levels. The point here don’t assume the other inferior to you, don’t be afraid of him or her, if you are not an asshole bigot there is good chance they won’t hurt you.

  73. I don’t think anybody disagrees with the message dude, just maybe the way it was portrayed,

  74. Difference between being superior and being a God.

  75. Does anyone know why THE SHAPE OF WATER promotes humans “doing it” with the animals

  76. Best film and best direction at the Globes!

  77. Vern, I don’t know, you have to explain it yourself since this is the notion you promoted in your review. Is it that a joke that went over my head? and if it is why you wrote this review if this is all you gotta say about the movie.

  78. Vern: EXACTLY what a bigot would say. Just digging your own grave now it looks.

  79. Why you so angry loco?

  80. el loco I’m just trying to find out if even one person here disagrees that THE SHAPE OF WATER was made to teach children to fuck seals and mermaids and if so does that person have the balls to speak up even one time. The answer is obviously no, there is not such a person because if there was we would’ve heard a peep out of them by now. There is one thing we all agree on and that is that this movie encourages and celebrates bestiality and was made as part of a promotional campaign for new legislation requiring every man or woman to have an aquatic pet that they feed eggs to in exchange for sex.

  81. THIS IS THE WORLD LIBERALS WANT

  82. Woah, Vern has gone full on Murtaugh.

  83. I meant Riggs. Godammit.

  84. More zoofilia jokes. I think I got the point by now, thank you, Vern, no need to proceed.

  85. More zoofilia jokes. I think I got the point by now, thank you, Vern, no need to proceed.

  86. I like how loco can’t handle being trolled back.

    You know what point of view I dont think we discussed with how different this movie would be if it were a guy and a hot fish woman.

  87. Good question, Sternshein. I’m not sure it would go over as well. The closest comparison I can think of is SPLICE, but that’s different because he created her and it’s not presented as romantic.

  88. Just throwin’ in my two cents about the fishman lovin’, it’s like furries, some people get off on the idea of there being more of a bridge between the animal and human world then there really is and getting kinda freaky with it, I don’t think it’s necessarily beastiality.

  89. That’s a cool and kind way to describe furryism. But I think that there might be a bit of shokushu goukan influence coming into play as well here. I couldn’t find anything in wikipedia’s article to corroborate this, but I get the sense that tentacle shit is about seagods defiling female victims.

    I suppose it could have been cool to have a seamonster-fucking movie where the female had actual agency and initiative in the encounter. Vern argues that in this case the portrayal still strikes as unbalanced since we don’t see Abe Phibian demonstrate a heck of a lot of human intelligence or communication. Or to put it another way, what we do see could easily be interpreted as a childlike intellect (running away ashamed after eating the cat).

    El loco counters by citing Stricklands pronouncement of Abe’s god status, but the character is a zealot and not an authoritative voice in the film. In fact: fish man loses god points in my eyes solely based on Strickland saying that shit. I declare him a false prophet.

    The film has continued to grow on me in retrospect. In INFERNO, a woman discovers a nightmare chamber of water that shouldn’t exist, beneath. In WATER, a woman creates a dream chamber of water that shouldn’t exist, above. (It also reminded me of the kitchen ice-skating rink episode of “Tom and Jerry”)

  90. renfield: so you gonna adopt Strickland’s bigoted point of view throughout the movie toward the amphibian man, and call him a liar only when he has a real revelation and sees god before he dies? Why would he become a false prophet right before he dies?

  91. renfield: so you gonna adopt Strickland’s bigoted point of view throughout the movie toward the amphibian man, and call him a liar only when he has a real revelation and sees god before he dies? Why would he become a false prophet right before he dies?

  92. So, Ron Howard’s SPLASH or Roger Corman’s HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP?

  93. Does the Fishman kill people in this movie?

  94. It’s a bit worse, the humanoids come up from the deep to rape and kill women!

  95. I would describe PAN’S LABYRINTH as an adult fairy tale and I love that movie. I looked for a Vern review of it but was told I fucked up and should do better.

    Also, I spent ten minutes trying to think of other movie titles which change or enhance the meaning of the movie after you’ve seen it and all I’ve come up with is FACE/OFF. Which is more a double meaning I guess, so even that doesn’t count.

    But a quick google for similar conversations gave me CAST AWAY, which is a good shout.

  96. Pegsman, I’m talking about Shape of Water. Does the monster kill dudes?

  97. Sternshein, I haven’t seen it. I was seriously (well…) asking if it resembles SPLASH or HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP? From the look of this “debate” it could also be like the SPLASH porn parody TALK DIRTY TO ME III with John Leslie and Traci Lords.

  98. So, I finally saw this one, and, wow, this is a weird fucking movie. On one hand, it’s way too beautiful and sensually crafted to possibly resist. On the other hand, holy shit, do they ever bungle the monster-fucking by not even gesturing towards a consensual relationship that would justify it. I’m apparently not against monster-fucking as a rule, and I admire the film’s balls to just go there — in particular, I adore Sally Hawkin’s weird “fuck it” half-grin when she just decides to go for it. But man does it come out of nowhere even close to romantic. And it really confuses any hope of romance by making a perfectly reasonable case for saving Aquaman for simply compassionate reasons, which puts the fish-fucking in pretty different light. Like, if FREE WILLY just ended with Jesse banging the hell out of the whale which now owes him its life, wouldn’t it sort of throw into question his real motives?

    I mean, let’s answer Sternshein’s question directly: if this was a male human banging a vaguely humanoid fishwoman with unclear communicative ability and zero facial affect, that he stole from his lab and is now entirely dependent on him for its very survival, we would call it rape, and this would be basically DEADGIRL. And the fact that they want to symbolically link this act with a whole range of marginalized groups from the 1950s makes it way grosser and creepier, completely dehumanizing any way you want to slice at the metaphor. At best, it’s positing our Fishman as a kind of “Noble Savage” uncorrupted by society, at worse it’s basically claiming that being one of society’s dispossessed is so completely dehumanizing that it requires a return to an animalistic nature to find connection. Either way, it’s an insane message for a fishfucking movie to so blatantly foreground. I accused Martin McDonagh of not really “getting” American racism in his well-intentioned but somewhat tone-deaf THREE BILLBOARDS, but Del Toro seems to miss the boat here much more spectacularly. I’m not quite as hard-line as Dan Prestwich about the idea that “fairy-tales for adults” should not exist, but if they must, they definitely shouldn’t posit themselves as incisive social commentaries on the most complicated and painful social issues of the day (especially when the director nakedly cares a lot more about cool monsters than social policy).

    It all feels vaguely unseemly, except that, uh, Me, Vern, and Dan Prestwich seem to be the only people who had reservations about this. It’s weird because the movie is so laboriously obvious about its themes, but almost no one seems to be willing to try and follow its metaphors to their logical conclusion. The audience I saw this with (packed house) was absolutely in the palm of its hand, cheering, laughing, booing the villains. I mean, aside from a somewhat overloaded screenplay with too many unnecessary characters, I have to agree this is just absolutely fantastic filmmaking, great to watch, hard to resist. And America seems to be amazingly down with it, so I feel odd being the one to complain. But I can’t help it, the movie feels a little too dishonest for me to wholeheartedly embrace. I think I’d be 100% on board if the film just admitted what a bizarre perversion it has and ran with it. It’s the awkward whitewashing of something startlingly grotesque that feels off to me.

  99. Yeah I didn’t really want to dig too much into the racial elements here, but the movie doesn’t really do itself any favors by making its most prominent black character a sassy black matriarch stereotype. And showing her husband to be some sort of lazy good-for-nothing.

    To be clear, I don’t think it’s overtly racist, just sort of unintentionally playing into the very stereotypes it should be pushing against. Which furthers my point that Del Toro should really stick to straightforward genre fare, since every time he tires to “say” something in his movies, he proves that he has nothing interesting to say and wouldn’t know how to say it if he did.

  100. Dan — yeah, its heart is certainly in the right place, but there’s really no missing the fact that Del Toro is deeply, wholeheartedly invested in creating cool monsters and pretty images, that be obsesses about it, that he lives and breaths and dreams it, that it’s at the core of his life.

    And also now that he stops to think about it, yeah, racism is totally bad, he’s against it.

    No offense to him intended, but his priorities are clear. Guarantee those journals of his have more about the specific mechanics of fishman fucking than they have historical notes about systemic segregation in suburban 1950s America, let alone clippings from BLM protests. And there’s nothing wrong with that! I love monsters and pretty images too, and just because he loves art and cinema more than politics doesn’t mean he’s not allowed to dabble in both if he sees fit — but SHAPE OF WATER unwisely puts the social issues of the day (and of our current day, not that I’m sure Del Toro is totally aware of that) front and center, even though that’s plainly not where its heart is. And that makes it impossible not to wince at how shallow its take on those issues turns out to be (and how reliant on broad stereotypes of the very people it definitely wants to champion).

    And it’s even more uncomfortable to say this, but I’m going to: I think Del Toro is a big ol’ nerd who identifies with movie monsters because, like most nerds (which is to say, like me), he felt like a misunderstood outcast as a kid. He gets monsters, he loves them, they’re something of a cinematic alter-ego for him. Fair enough, but because of that, he also seems to think he understands and empathizes with the misunderstood outcasts of society — minorities, non-heterosexuals, people with disabilities. But those experiences are so, so very not the same, and the fact that the movie doesn’t seem to make that distinction pretty much dooms any kind of real statement. It seems to say, “We’re all the same! Lovecraftian fish gods, movie nerds, blacks, gays, people with disabilities — we’re all in the same boat because we’re all tormented by mean jocks!” A nice sentiment, but one which misses the boat in some pretty huge ways.

    And yeah, to be clear, I’m not saying this movie is racist at all; it’s way too warmhearted and fond of its characters for that. There’s nothing wrong with its morals, but for a movie which seems to go out of its way to engage with what it believes to be the issues, its almost totally vacant of any sort of meaningful commentary beyond “racism and consumerism are bad, man.” Not a wrong message, but also not a very meaningful one. (Or is it? I guess I still labor under the impression that people mostly understand that being a Michael Shannon is bad, but in Trump’s America, maybe a few remedial messages aren’t a bad thing).

  101. Dan Prestwich – why didn’t you want to dig into that? you claim to understand that the amphibian man is a metaphor for the other, so why ignoring what is the movie is about? You say that Zelda and her husband are stereotypes, yes, but so are Superfly or Shaft or Django or Foxy Brown. All those stereotypes are on the right side

  102. You are on the wrong one

  103. It’s not racist to dislike sex between a woman and a fish monster.

  104. this comment section, you guys. holy shit. i fucken love y’all (yes, el loco you goddamned maniac, even you)

  105. Sternshein – It is either you are stupid and don’t understand the metaphor, or you are a bigot because you understand it and upset about the the anti-racist idea behind it. In your I’d say both, because you didn’t see the movie and you are here just to troll.

  106. My sense was that the movie allowed me to enjoy the story without feeling like I would condone such a thing in “real life”. It’s a pretty cartoony film. Even the themes of outsiders finding acceptance are handled pretty breezily. The film doesn’t seem to take Strickland that seriously as a villain; he’s delightfully loathsome but not really disturbing. And I mean, there’s a sex scene in a bathroom that gets aquaformed in like 30 seconds by wadding a towel under a door and turning on the faucet. It felt natural to me to not take the movie seriously enough to where I had to treat with the metaphors on the level where it feels deal-breakingly icky. Also, I’m buying the whole “she’s was a fish all along too” theory, so there’s that.

    But the aspect of it that does bug me is how easily GDT could have overcome this issue entirely given his well established gift of imbuing his beloved monsters with humanity. At the end of the day I can’t help but feel like not-Abe is given short shrift compared to what we used to get from this filmmaker, who could make us misty-eyed over a forest elemental with four minutes of screen time.

  107. I’m 100% trolling you. When you learn how to properly form a sentence I’ll stop.

  108. “In your CASE I’d say both, because you didn’t see the movie and you are here just to troll” – is that clear enough English to your supremacist ignorant ass?

  109. I’m Jewish dick head.

  110. God you’re tedious, el loco. You keep making the same point over and over again and then insulting people when they still don’t agree with you. Yes, someone who does not feel the themes of a film were explicated as effectively as you do simply MUST be a white supremacist. What insight you bring to this topic of tolerance and inclusivity.

    I assume until a few weeks ago you used to post somewhere else. Don’t they miss you there?

  111. Aah, this thread takes me back..!

  112. Frankly I think this movie would be improved enormously by being honest about the fact that it’s a kinky fetish flick, and not trying to halfheartedly paper it over with a fig leaf of romance. It’s such a crazy, ballsy thing to put in a mainstream movie that it’s a bit of a shame they feel the need to soft-peddle it. Go for it Del Toro… you’ve already crossed the line, now let your freak flag fly!

  113. Mr. Majestyk – I called him that because he made fun of my English, like his kind do. Not because what he said on the movie. Like him, you are here talking about movies you didn’t see and judging people that you don’t know and defending racists.

  114. Mr. Majestyk – I called him that because he made fun of my English, like his kind do. Not because what he said on the movie. Like him, you are here talking about movies you didn’t see and judging people that you don’t know and defending racists.

  115. Sternshein: “I’m Jewish…”

    el loco: “…like his kind do.”

    Goodnight everybody!

  116. geoffreyjar – This kind can be Jewish too like Norton in American History X. That’s like Kevin Spacey going out of the closet trying to defend himself against pedophilia accusations. I bet he has a Jewish attorney too, like Ray Moore…

  117. What did you mean “like his kind do?”

  118. Sternshein – Like being an asshole bigot who thinks he is better then other people because his first language is English. You have been trolling me here without seeing TSOW and then made a racist remark. That’s the kind I’m talking about, a troll and a bigot.

    Mr. Majestyk – BTW, the real Mr. Majestyk, the great Elmore Leonard Mr. Majestyk, has sypathy for the underdog, he doesn’t like bigots or their point of view and not only because they are fucking up his business. I think the real Mr. Majestyk

  119. wouldn’t just try to kiss a bigot’s ass, all I’m saying. Maybe he could even understand the Amphibian Man situation and relate to it, who knows? All I’m saying. you might want to change your nickname because the real thing will not defend idiot Trumpists.

  120. The only bigot I see here is you, loco. Also, I never said anything racist. You can spin whatever bullshit narrative.

  121. BTW dude, I did not vote for Trump. I do not want a bullshit wall. I want to keep Daca. I don’t tell people they gotta learn English so I’m sorry for going to that generic troll move of complaining about your grammar.

    I do think you are an asshole, though.

  122. Sternshein -Not spinning shit, it is all in the thread: you are consistently trolling, and then when you had nothing other stupid to say, no argument, not even seeing the movie, you make a racist remark about how your English is so much better. You do sound like a bigot or maybe you are just a stupid kid, a school yard bully praying on the different, a kid who doesn’t understand what he is saying. Dickhead for sure, don’t know about the Jewish part.

  123. There are two broad strategies for dealing with an el loco character. Ban him from the threads (authoritarian and sweeping approach) or just observe a personal discipline of ignoring him until he goes away or self-reforms (can be done bottom-up and is less sweeping–each individual adopts that posture. and/or allows themselves to be hooked into fruitless skirmishes as desired). In the latter case, el loco will definitely keep feeding off of whatever oxygen (=responses) you give him, and your rebuttals or clarifications are just gasoline. I would have gathered everyone here was tracking that for themselves, but then again, given the way this thread and the TLJ have gone, I’m starting to wonder.

  124. I don’t even know who you are, where the fuck you are from, what race you are. You are only even the only one bringing it up. Am I being a dick to you? Absolutely. Should I have used grammar instead of English? Clearly since you think I’m being racist. Which, again, I have no idea who you even are.

    So I apologize for being a dick.

  125. Skani – maybe you should take your own advice and stop feeding me. That’s all you have been doing in these threads, trolling me and try to get Vern to silence me, throw the Jew down the well type of thing, lock her up type of thing.

  126. Throw the Jew down the well? Quit being antisemitic.

  127. I’m just an amphibian man from Atlantis, Sternshein. And your joke about my English wasn’t there for no reason, or a “technical” reason, it was the only reason for you being here since you didn’t even see the movie.

  128. El loco – I haven’t seen Zoo: 2 “The Shape of Water” yet, I’m only here to mock your ability to string together sentences. I really do believe you’re a fishman though, because it’s the only reasonable explanation, for how offended you are by all of this.

    Seriously, you are a jackass, and The Last Jedi was pretty good, your opin

  129. ion on that is wrong too.
    Jackass

    Ps. Your ruining the talkbacks and I think you’re secretly Amazing Larry

  130. Windows – You look like a white idiot on meth. Go suck on them balls of your new thala-siren puppet.

  131. I bet Del Toro’s HP Lovecraft adaptation fell through because of his pro-fish-fucking stance.

  132. I wonder how he’d feel about Cthulufucking

  133. I’d go a bit further than Sternshein because to me Del Toro completely tried to stack the deck for the audience to sympathize with Elisa andminimally second-guess her. If her character wasn’t basically an outcast except for one old man and a friend at work, suffering from a disability, starved for a sex, sexually harassed, and a working woman, vs. a sexually harassing, tyranical, bigoted, sadistic torturer for a boss, who is just out to climb the ladder, then I think the takes would be a lot sharper on this movie–evein the context of a cartoony monster movie because the optics would look worse. I think Del Toro tried to skirt around some of these things by putting in signals, but the execution still didn’t quite work for me. Some of those signals are things like the subtitles early and later putting in a detailed subtitled back and forth between the creature and Elisa to suggest that they were truly communicating before. But lots of the timing is off. And in terms of comparison, I think we’re supposed to see Elisa and the creature’s as a similar dynamic to Zelda and Elisa’s relationship (where lots of outsiders might think she’s dumb, but Zelda is both able to translate able to understand her and protect her-e.g. not translating the repeated “fuck you’s” to Michael Shannon. And while Elisa hasn’t been friends and worked with the creature before, Elisa claims, on some level, to understand and have a bond with the creature and both acts at points as a translator and advocate for him.

    I did notice the suggestions about Elisa’s origins through the movie. I can get behind the she’s a sea creature too interpretation. The bits of intimacy that we do see her and the creative have are noticeably different and more aquatic than the wham bam, creepy, and literally bringing about further death and decay that we get from Strickland’s sex scene. And no human other romantic or potentially romantic relationship is presented in a very positive light. Richard Jenkins’ is attracted to the key lime pie “family restaurant” owner, but he’s a complete bigot and homophobe who harshly rebuffs Jenkins’ first advance. The only way for him to have been more discriminatory would’ve been physically beating Jenkins up. Olivia Spencer’s husband betrays her trust, only speaking up when it hurts something and someone Zeldacares about, he lounges around in a chair at home, not coming to her help or defense. Her character also has lots of lines abut being sour on marriage, like how she’s only ever good at lying to her husband. At best, and I’d argue thematically thie movie ultimately would be down on them, the most positive human coupling presentation is the young adults in the car approvingly waving at Strickland in his new teal cadillac. Kind of more stacking the deck so that the audience roots for one romantic relationship to work itself out positively imo,

    But, ultimately, I’m sympathetic to Mr. Subtlety. The romance wasn’t convincingly sold to me at all. The questionable consent issues all occured to me while watching this on screen, and if we’re being honest I think it’s an open question the extent that Elisa falls in love or has this natural (perhaps aquatic) connection with the amazonian creature, or, alternatively, that Elisa’s just kinda a perv and the creature is her jam. In terms of the kink, I don’t think it’s an accident we keep seeing Elisa’s masturbating (I think?) in a filled tub, and of course she hooks up with the creature later in the tub and then floods the bathroom up as their relationship becomes more passionate. You could read that different ways. Maybe how you come out on this stuff will vary depending on how much you buy into them both being fish (or similar enough fish) and having some kind of instinctual, understanding bond–Jenkins has that whole speech about eyes being key and those two sure did gaze at each other a lot. When I think back on it, it makes more sense to me, but I wasn’t moved by the romance and was skeptical of the creature fucking as I was actually watching the film. In a movie that’s obvious with so much stuff, it strikes me as strange to be ambiguous on that subject.

  134. El loco – I know it’s a poor resolution photo, but if you think I’m a posterboy for meth; I’m guessing your privileged ass has never spent any significant time in poor neighbourhoods, around individuals with serious substance abuse issues.

    Anywho, I hadn’t the slightest what the fuck a thala siren was so I googled it.
    Sick burn; however, I would never have sexual interference with an animal, because it’s creepy to fuck animals. You creepy fishfucker.

  135. Dan Prestwich – I wonder why you wonder that. The obsession of some here to prove that this is a fish fucking movie, when this is clearly not the story Del Toro told – you just have to see the fucking movie in order to understand that – show that they are fascinated by the idea of some Cthulufucking fucking, just like are homophobs are fascinated by gay culture or islamophobs like to quote suras from the Koran.. I mean, Vern looked like he was just kidding for the whole review but some of the people here took this thesis seriously which is even more ridicules.
    I take your word that you think that Del Toro is just a bad storyteller but you agree with his political views portrayed in the movie (or don’t you?). I just disagree with you on Del Toro.

  136. I’m sorry el loco, but I have to ask you to swim away now, and to never set a flipper in these comments again. You are not adding to any of these discussions, only splashing around and getting everybody wet. You of all people should know that horseplay is not allowed by the pool. I hope that some day our peoples can have peace, but it is clear that for now you do not belong on land.

  137. And right when he called me out for my Cthuluphobia.

  138. Dan Prestwich — you don’t fuck Cthulu, it fucks you.

    BrianB — You’re right, it’s no accident that we see Elisa masturbating in the tub. In fact, most of the imagery in her scenes involves water; the running sink, the bath, the boiling of egg, even the mopping of floors — not to mention, that as things start getting kinky with the fishman, her apartment starts to copiously leak water from the ceiling. All of which definitely points to her connection with water. You could interpret that to mean that water is her origin (hence, “she’s a secret fishman!”, or her essence, or her destiny, or just her fetish, it works out about the same. It’s pretty hard to miss, really; I mean, it certainly occurred to me that her scars were at least symbolic gills long before the final reveal. Whether the scars were gills all along or this was just her destiny, I don’t know that it makes a big difference, but that’s definitely what Del Toro is getting at.

    My problem isn’t that it’s an inter-species relationship, though; I think it’s entirely possible she’s a secret fishman all along –the evidence is definitely there, if you choose to add it up that way–, but it doesn’t really affect the real problem, which is that the fishman is totally undeveloped as a character (it never even gets a name!), and we really never get the sense of to what degree it understands or relates to her, or why she’s so smitten with it for that matter, beyond her claim that it “doesn’t know how I’m incomplete.” If she’s ready to fuck the first semi-sentient thing which doesn’t completely define her by her single (pretty minor, all things considered) disability, that’s about the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. That’s not a romance, that’s a story of despair and alienation so profound it’s dehumanizing on an instinctual level. Which just brings me around again to the idea that Del Toro is a big ol’ nerd, and doesn’t really understand very much about adult emotion or have any insight at all into sex, all of which adds up to a story which is ravishing cinema but almost shockingly cynical about the issues at its heart.

  139. That’s a bit harsh although it’s true the romance depth isn’t strong. But I definitely agree the creature is underdeveloped. He doesn’t even have a name. It undermines some of Del Toro’s implicit arguments for the creatures humanity that so little individuality or even sci-if kinda world building is there for him. Is he really a god? What are his magic powers and how do they work? What was his relationship to the people where he came from? How was he kidnapped? How did Elisa and Jenkins teach him not to eat the cats? How’d that process play out? (the violence/he’s wild question is vaguely put out there by how the creature kills the cat and then perhaps unintentionally injures Jenkins as it flees outside, but then is throw aside.) what does the creature think about his sexual relationship with Elisa? Why was the conversation at the docks the first time they had what could be construed as the talk about their relationship?

  140. You know what I just discovered is probably the super genre movie with social undertones because I just saw it and it’s incredible is Get Out. It’s amazing.

  141. Lmao, yes. I’d also recommend it.

  142. I heard fish dude referred to as “half fish, half man” and it made me think of another way Del Toro might have been approaching it. A classic part of fantasy is creatures that are taken for granted to be human in essence, but trapped in some sort of half- or non-human state. Sometimes the result is the frog gets turned into a human, but sometimes the human is turned into Shrek’s wife.. In those examples the human-level intelligence of all participants is well established, but I can see the filmmaker having a basic faith in the archetype that renders his judgment poor in terms of what’s needed to get everybody else on board.

  143. Has anyone thought to stop and think that maybe del Toro is/was a huge fan of Rikku from the DARKSTALKERS cartoon:

  144. I saw this tonight. It is fucking weird, but a pretty unique cinematic experience and guaranteed to provoke some weird conversations. Like this one. I am a bit baffled by the heated exchange above though unless it is pure trolling with no real substance behind it. I mean, the fish-man is more like a fish-chimpanzee than a fish-man, at least from a mental perspective.

    This is actually explicitly spelled out in one of the weirder scenes in the movie, where the film turns black and white for a few minutes (I think people who have seen the movie will know what I am talking about, without needing to give anything away with spoiler tags). When the scene is over it is obvious and basically shown right on the screen that the entire romantic relationship is contained in the woman’s mind.

  145. Vern is one of the most liberal reviewers ever, so it’s weird to read that el loco insults him being bigot, hater of blacks etc. Vern sometimes even see ghost when there’s no ghost, e.g. Butler killing muslim terrorists in London Has Fallen is ridiculous and “too soon” for his taste.

  146. I took issue with the flippant way the film treated the murder of the guard. Don’t be all preachy about how the protagonists need to stop the fish-man from being killed or they’re “not human” and then dismiss the murder of an innocent guard with a joke. Good movie overall though

  147. What a tremendously enjoyable comment section. It makes sense since we already had a duckfucking comment section, that we´d also move on to fishfucking.

  148. David Lambert — that’s an excellent point that I’d completely forgotten about. It’s a weirdly extreme thing to include, particularly considering there’s literally zero ramifications from it, nobody ever even mentions it in passing. Richard Jenkins is barely in on the plan as it is, and then a guy gets his head blown off right in front of him because of his fuck-up… and next time we see him, he’s just as pleased as punch that the fishman he’s never met has been saved from a situation he never saw. It’s just bizarre, and so unnecessary! Why write that into the script if you’re never going to do anything with it?

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