THE SHAPE OF WATER | Official Trailer | FOX Searchlight
Priyanka Chopra on Conquering Self Doubt
Most Hollywood movies depict disability as the same concept of a white, straight male who is struck down with some form of disability in his adulthood and lives a bitter life, learning to cope up with the growing sense of bitterness. The plot of the movies is mainly focused on the disability factor and when the concept of sex figures into the equation, it is usually portrayed as a source of humor or a reason for the person to shuffle loose the mortal coil.
The Shape of Water, however, provides hope that maybe the barriers between disability and sexual behavior can be broken down.
Sally Hawkins’ mute heroine Elisa in Shape of Water and her sexuality is at the forefront of a film that examines disabled relationships, fears and the frustration of finding love with a Gill-Man. The majority of disabled narratives focus on men, with the implication being that male perseverance is something to behold, to be inspired by.
This year alone saw Jake Gyllenhaal play a Boston bombing amputee you root for in Stronger, while Andrew Garfield “inspired” audiences as Robin Cavendish in Breathe. But it’s rare finding female-led corollaries in mainstream Hollywood cinema.
The closest comparisons to a character like Hawkins’ strong disabled woman with an agency is found today mainly in the horror genre like the two Chucky films, Curse and Cult of Chucky.
SourceThe Shape of Water’s opening moments immediately throws out the assumption that disabled equals asexual when Elisa goes about her morning routine, which includes quickly masturbating in the bathtub. Elisa and the Amphibian Man develop a relationship that allows them to find acceptance within each other.
The pair, who communicate via sign language, are able to talk to each other as opposed to having able-bodied conduits speak for them. Del Toro compels the audience watching to look closer at what defines all of us in the arena of sex and love, regardless of ability.