Family history is a curious thing, especially when it inspires a well-known story.
In the 2005 film, Rumor Has It…, Sarah (Jennifer Aniston) and Jeff (Mark Ruffalo) are a newly engaged coupled. Sarah introduces Jeff to her family when they go to California for her sister’s wedding. During the visit to California, Jeff infers that Sarah’s father, Earl (Richard Jenkins) is not her biological father. Enter Beau (Kevin Costner), a successful author who may have had affairs concurrently with Sarah’s late mother and grandmother Katherine (Shirley MacLaine) back in the day. This leads Sarah to believe that the 1967 film, The Graduate is more than fiction. Like her mother and grandmother, Sarah falls for Beau’s charms, but she may end up losing Jeff in the process.
This film is an interesting one. It’s not exactly the typical romantic comedy, but it also does not use it’s source material as much as it could have.
The story of a romance between a human female and a non human or super human male is not new to readers or audiences. This basic narrative has been rebooted many times over in many different ways for generations. The question is, can the writer or writers make their narrative stand out from similar narratives?
The new film, The Shape Of Water, takes place in 1962 Baltimore. Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute woman who works for a government facility in the janitorial department. She spends her time with her co-worker and friend (who talks enough for both of them), Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and her middle-aged bachelor neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins). One day, a new classified experiment arrives the facility under the control of Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). Elisa and Zelda are told to keep their time in the laboratory short, but Elisa’s curiosity gets the best of her.
The experiment is an Amphibian Man (Doug Jones), who Mr. Strickland would like to kill and experiment on. But Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) has a conscious and a secret reason for keeping the creature alive. Can Elisa save this creature and how will that forever change them both?
Using a fairy tale, Beauty and The Beast motif, this film is one of my favorite in 2017. I loved the basic fairy tale narrative blended with life in the early 60’s. Both The Cold War and The Civil Rights Movement are so seamlessly blended into the plot that the audience forgets about the history lesson they are receiving. I would not be surprised if this film did well come awards season.