I recently watched The Shape Of Water, a 2017 film by Guillemor del Toro with Sally Hawkins as lead (Elisa Esposito).  Set in the early 1960s the film follows the life of Elisa, a high intelligence laboratory mute domestic worker. She is introduced to us as someone with specific routines, with daily rituals she dares not miss. We are immediately drawn to her journey of discovering what is next, what else is this woman up to in her life? It must be dark! Prior to the discovery of the creature in the tank, the one Elisa ends connecting with at work, we learn that the only other important people in her life is her gay confidant and fellow worker who interprets what she says to their employer and everyone else thereof.  The film is filled with layers people from all works of life are bound to know.

 Hawkins’s performance is captivating from the moment we meet her, she brings Elisa to life with poise, which is supported by the excellent sound, editing, cinematography and the precise reference to the era the film depicts.

Sitting on the edge of my sit, I could not help but just appreciate the beautiful art piece, thinking of everyone I know who could possibly appreciate it too.  I was filled with a strong sense of not perceiving it as blockbuster body of work, it is one for people with specific taste in the nature of its core metaphor. You cannot help but try to imagine the process everyone went through trying to deliver this stellar piece. This note brings me to the point of whom I believe I could tailor this film for, given the chance.  When I watched this film, the room was full of people from different backgrounds and nationalities, I took note of those who were leaving the room soon after, the ones who were giggling and sealed the deal with a chat with few people after the film. This helped me gather or imagine demographics of those who are likely to appreciate the film in the future or in other parts of the world and of course I cannot solely depend on this as it was few people I spoke to so my choice of audience is highly supported by my personal opinion than of those I encounter.  

I see The Shape Of Water as an art film yet a piece that could be catered to all round audience group.  It is a film I would personally serve in Cinema Noveau drama houses and independent exclusive cinemas for passionate geeks who are all about appreciating this medium. I have a strong sense that any film scholar who is strongly interested in the medium will have wonderful things to say about The Shape Of Water.

Only a few would see this fantasy feature as something we can weave into reality. Like the scenes were Elisa pleases herself in the bathtub, or later on making love with the creature in the bathtub thereof, it gets some ordinary audiences giggling, some leaving the room as it appears ridiculous. This makes the film a taste for those who would experience such moments with more depth than what the eye sees. It is for active viewers as to passive receivers.  I would curate it for the communities of art lovers, the gallery geeks and those who are open to engaging with the texts they see, something they would find nourishing and topical. This pieces raises a lot of questions, Elisa compares herself to the creature as to us who are not mute she is just as good as one. This makes the connection between her and the creature extra ordinary, we are quick to dismiss the unfamiliar and dispose those who are marginalized in the larger communities. I believe it would cater the needs of the audience I tailor it for; it is definitely for the knowledgeable population and those who are open for new discoveries.

This is a film you preview to the people who will rave to its artistic nature therefor gets the crowd to go watch it even if they may have their own opinion after, having the influential active consumers does the rest of work for the success of its screenings for the masses.  Discussions after some of the screenings will develop more engagement with the text and create a large audience base.

~Elelwani N