The Shape of Water is the year’s most sentimental fish romance

Thursday, 14 September 2017, 04:29:58 AM. Once again, Guillermo del Toro proves his obsession with the past, and the way it shapes the present.
Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our brief breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special event releases. This review comes from the Toronto International Film Festival. Writer-director Guillermo del Toro has always been fascinated by ghosts. Sometimes those ghosts are literal — in his movies Crimson Peak and The Devil’s Backbone, they’re the shades of the dead, actively seeking vengeance against those who wronged them. In other films, like his Hellboy movies or Pacific Rim, the ghosts are more metaphorical: representations of unfinished business, traumas that haunt people, or family connections that won’t go away. In Pan’s Labyrinth, the past takes on multiple dangerous forms; in Cronos, it’s just one aging man. This is the theme that connects all of del Toro’s work: the way people carry the past around, and need to move past it to become complete people. But in his latest film, The Shape of Water, his obsession with the power of the past takes on its warmest and most benign form to date. Here, for once, the dead forms who haunt the living aren’t malicious, confused, or angry. They’re much too busy singing and dancing to take a personal interest in the world they’ve departed. They’re the stars of classic movie musicals, and they do haunt the film, giving it form and structure. But for once, the film’s protagonists aren’t trying to escape the past. They’re embracing its sentimentality, its innocence, and above all, its romance. What’s the genre? Fantasy...Read more
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