The joke that started a war between friends and my take of The Shape Of Water was this: “What if Hogarth were a woman and ‘The Iron Giant’ had a penis and a nice ass?” Simplistic reduction on it’s face, but in my opinion, not far off.
But to one who loved the film, an affront! A bridge too far! How dare I not like this film and how could I miss all the metaphor and symbolism and art. — I didn’t miss it. I saw it and I didn’t think that much of it. I thought that, while it was visually stunning the performances were good, the script had holes and the romance was forced.
In truth, The Shape Of Water is not The Iron Giant, but they do share many similarities: The two heroines are both lonely and misunderstood by their peers. They both find their most meaningful relationship with an alien from another world – both of which are coveted by The Russians, and they both have an artist friend that has to help them hide these strange creatures. In the end both heroes realize they have to learn to let their special friends go, which in turn leads them to discovering their own true self worth.
However, if you are still looking for a film that proves you understand metaphor and symbolism AND stars a shy, selfless female heroine who cannot find love and receives help from her artist neighbor, you might try “Amelie” – visually stunning AND an excellent story.