There’s a little bit of everything in the latest from Guillermo del Toro. The Shape of Water is part fairy tale, part monster movie, part love story, and part horror thriller. The filmmaker even finds room to squeeze in some nasty bits of gore and a dazzling classic Hollywood musical number. It may sound like none of that could work in one movie, but del Toro melds the many genre elements of his sublime fantasy into a loving ode to cinema. It’s a heartbreaking love story about loneliness and the transcendent power of language, and it’s simply magical.
Imagine Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, only said shrinkage was of your own volition. You could willingly decide to become a miniature version of yourself, but why would any sane person do that? The selling point of such a bizarre life-changing experience is that as five-inch-tall human, you would literally use less resources, and thus all of your daily necessities and luxuries would cost next to nothing. If you never could afford living in a lavish mansion, now you can. If you always wanted a diamond bracelet or a yacht, now you could buy one for a fraction of the price. And hey, you’re helping the environment too! That’s the idea at the center of Alexander Payne’s Downsizing. This dark satire, directed by Payne (Nebraska, Sideways) and co-written by him and Jim Taylor, has the deceptive appearance of a quirky Charlie Kaufman-like sci-fi political tale, but it wastes its brilliant concept on a misguided, uninteresting story about a character you couldn’t care less about.
It would be an understatement to call Darren Aronofsky’s mother! simply crazy. This movie is a balls-to-the-wall bonkers nightmare that feels like diving head-first through the fiery pits of hell. It more than earns its titular exclamation point; as a matter of fact, it could use at least six more of those, bolded in 50-point font. It’s a uniquely thrilling ride ribbed with shards of dark humor, but mother! is bound to be Aronofsky’s most divisive film yet. Though wildly daring, Aronofsky’s latest is a self-indulgent melting pot exploding with too many ideas that’s as enthralling as it is frustrating.