Regular readers may recall that I went to see and absolutely loved Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri a few weeks ago, which picked up 5 awards (including Best Film, Outstanding British Film, Original Screenplay, Leading Actress and Supporting Actor (to Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell respectively) at the BAFTAs last weekend.
With Oscars night fast approaching, and now armed with my Unlimited pass to my local cinema, I’m trying to get to see as many of the other nominated films as I can.
A couple of weeks ago, I popped along to see Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman in a fat suit as Winston Churchill (winner of the BAFTA Leading Actor, deservedly so, he’s phenomenal in it), and this week I went to see what, with 13 nominations, is the main challenger to Three Billboards… at the Oscars: The Shape of Water (which won Best Director for Guillermo del Toro, and Best Original Music for Alexandre Desplat at the BAFTAs).
The plot of The Shape of Water (don’t worry – no spoilers) is your standard Bad Man captures Fish-Man, Mute Girl meets Fish-Man, Mute Girl and Fish-Man fall in love, Mute Girl attempts to rescue Fish-Man from Bad Man, Mute Girl and Fish-Man engage in some really rather inappropriate sexual activity (don’t send me comments, I understand that it’s symbolic); you know, the sort of thing we’ve seen hundreds of times before.
Joking aside, The Shape of Water really is rather beautiful to look at, and Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito (Mute Girl) is spellbinding, but ultimately I came away from it feeling a little underwhelmed. For my money, the Fish-Man looked just a bit too much like The Creature from the Black Lagoon which apparently inspired this film, there wasn’t really much in the way of tension or surprises, and, knowing the basic premise of the film before I went, the final dénouement came as no surprise whatsoever: I quite literally saw it coming from pretty much the opening scene.
And so to today’s string song, which comes from the movie’s soundtrack. Originally recorded by Alice Faye, and appearing in 1943’s Hello, Frisco, Hello, for which it won the Oscar for Best Original Song, it’s perhaps best known this side of the pond as being a Vera Lynn song, although it’s also been covered by Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Trini Lopez, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Shirley Bassey, Hugh Masekale and Michael Bublé, to name but a few.
Faye’s version makes an appearance in The Shape of Water, but Hawkins also lip-syncs to a new recording, featuring American opera singer Renée Fleming with the London Symphony Orchestra, on a scene where she…erm…dances with the Fish-Man, and it’s this version which appears on the Original Soundtrack release:
Alexandre Desplat (feat. Renée Fleming) – You’ll Never Know
As for the Oscars: my money’s still on Three Billboards… to scoop the lion’s share of the awards.