Shape of Water and Our Fascination with Monster Romance

Pop Culture

Shape of Water and Our Fascination with Monster Romance

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

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uillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water achieves its romantic peak in a sequence that is straight out of childhood. Eliza Esposito, the mute heroine of the piece, jambs the gap between the door frame and the floor with towels and lets the taps run. Somehow – and this has never been the outcome every time I’ve pulled this little stunt – the bathroom fills to the ceiling, leaving her free to romance her partner in a small, but earnest reimagination of the Amazon in gushing force. Then the door opens, the water gushes out into her crummy apartment, and Eliza looks out over her partner’s shoulder: Her gaze direct, announcing her intent to love this person whom she has locked in a naked embrace, simultaneously challenging the viewer to judge her.

Because she is hugging a biped amphibious monster.

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