Review of 'The Shape of Water'

the_shape_of_water.jpg In a 1960s top secret laboratory cleaning lady Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is enchanted with an amphibious creature that is the object of study by it's sadistic discoverer, Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). The mute Elisa lives a lonely, unfulfilled, life with only her friendly older neighbour Giles (Richard Jenkins) and her co-worker friend Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer) for company. Elisa slowly forms a relationship with the creature who is relentlessly tortured. When she learns that the creature is to be put to death she knows she must act quickly to save him before it is too late…

An enchanting, gentle (for the most part), slow-paced film with a fantastic plot that manages to suspend your disbelief and draw you into the lonely life of the humble Elisa who is just looking for something more. Del Toro here is not afraid to take his time in telling the story and really feeling for these characters. Indeed, it seems to be his talent with Pan's Labyrinth springing immediately to mind as a close parallel. His talent as a filmmaker is such that the fantastic is utterly believable with the effects somehow melting into the background so we concentrate instead on where our attention should be focused: The story and characters. Indeed, the effects here are second to both of these. And, as is his want, this is another clear-cut fable of good (yeah!) and evil (hisss!).

Sally Hawkins as Elisa is utterly compelling as the mute cleaning lady who manages to look beyond the superficial to see the heart of the creature that she eventually falls in love with. Yes, there is some complicated sex stuff happening here that, to be fair, is not shirked away from. Indeed in the first five minutes of the film there is nudity that continues throughout (for those that are sensitive to such matters). There are other strong performances from the supporting cast notably Richard Jenkins as Giles, the homosexual, retired neighbour who too is looking for meaning in his life. Jenkins' Giles is settled into his world and a friend to his neighbour that is slowly but inexorably drawn into Elisa's plan to free her lover.

An poetic, amazing, and touching modern fairy tale from the master, Guillermo del Toro.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2020-12-29

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

Studio: Double Dare You (DDY)

Year: 2017

Length: 123 minutes

Genre: Fantasy

Other reviewed films by Guillermo del Toro:

Other reviewed films by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson: