Tuesday, 19 September 2017

THE SWAN, THE SHAPE OF WATER - TIFF 2017: One Sang, the Other Didn't - Capsule Reviews of a winner and a loser at TIFF 2017 by Greg Klymkiw

TIFF 2017 featured a Feature Debut that Soared and A Veteran's Work That Sank

Capsule Reviews of The Swan and The Shape of Water
By Greg Klymkiw

SWAN, THE ****
Dir. Ása Helga Hjörleifsdótirr
Icelandic screenwriter-Director Ása Helga Hjörleifsdótirr adapts the Guðbergur Bergsson novel with taste, restraint and artistry of a very high order. A nine-year-old girl, living in state-imposed exile at her aunt and uncle's remote rural farm after a shoplifting conviction in the city, is a story so exquisitely, delicately unveiled that it confounds all expectations one might have of both coming-of-age and fish-out-of-water tales. Surrounded by fields, meadows and rugged, imposing mountains, these are wide open spaces that feel horrifically claustrophic. The film's tiny dollops of magical realism are perfect punctuation points to an experience that is as strangely creepy as it is deeply and profoundly moving.

Dir. Guillermo del Toro
I love listening to Guillermo del Toro talk about classic cinema. Damn, I wish he made movies as engaging and exciting as his rapturous lectures, but I've mostly not responded to his work. This abominably twee fairy-tale-rendering of Jack Arnold's Creature From the Black Lagoon is full of "progressive" touches completely out of touch with the period in which the film is set. Worst yet, we must suffer through Sally Hawkins (as a mute janitor no less) falling in love with a smelly fish-man trapped by nasty Michael Shannon in a research facility. It's so sickening, one doesn't so much think about the pretentious "shape" of water, but rather the "stench" of the water creature's genitals.

The Swan and The Shape of Water played at TIFF 2017