The Shape of Water Review

The Shape of Water Poster #1

Guillermo del Toro is easily one of the most imaginative filmmakers of our time. Every film he creates is as beautiful as it is awe-inspiring. However, looking good and being good are two completely different things. Although his films after Pan’s Labyrinth were good, they never felt as special as Pan was. So is The Shape of Water a film that brings some of that del Toro magic back?

You bet it does. From very beginning to very end, The Shape of Water is an extraordinary film that’s just as much sorrowfully frightening as it is joyously charming.

The Shape of Water follows Elisa Esposito, a mute girl that works as a janitor at a top-secret government facility. Her life changes forever as she and her fellow coworker, Zelda, come across a mysterious aquatic creature.

The Shape of Water - Michael Shannon, Sally Hawkins, and Octavia Spencer

As you watch The Shape of Water, it feels as if you’re watching something special. The film has a childlike charm that can only be found in a Guillermo del Toro film. It’s magical, heartfelt, and so damn beautiful to look at. But unlike del Toro’s attempt to pay tribute to the classic Gothic romance in Crimson Peak, he wholly succeeds with his creature romance. Now, there are those that’ll be off-put by the sea creature and human woman romance. Admittedly, it is a little weird. Yet after some time, you begin to root for them to succeed because of how heartless the villain is.

Much of what makes the film work is because of the dynamic between all of our heroes. The dialogue that del Toro and Vanessa Taylor wrote for these characters is funny and natural. In a way, they’re a little reminiscent of the X-Men. In other words, the group consists of a mute, a gay person, a Russian person, a black person, and a sea creature. So in the United States, they’re considered outcasts in the early 60s. Everyone’s dynamic to help the poor sea creature is a blast to watch.

Not to mention, the film is celebration of film, in general. If you’ve seen Martin Scorsese’s Hugo then you know what that means. Del Toro’s inherent love for movies clearly shows through some of these scenes. The most impressive thing about The Shape of Water is how del Toro combines all these themes and is still able to make it coherent and entertaining.

At the same time, the cast should get as much praise as those behind the camera. Chief among them is Sally Hawkins who deserves all this acclaim despite saying so little. Her facial expressions and sign language convey so much emotional content. Also, she portrays such a strong character despite her naive appearance.

The Shape of Water - Richard Jenkins and Doug Jones

Richard Jenkins is an absolute delight as Elisa’s neighbor, Giles. Although Elisa is more “broken” than Giles, Jenkins plays his character as someone who’s more emotionally damaged. He plays that front well and shows subtle hints of his damaged character despite being a lovable guy. Not to mention, he has some of the best lines in the entire film and delivers them hilariously.

Michael Shannon is devilishly good as the film’s main antagonist. Although he is known for his villainous roles, he’s never been more intense here. There’s a little bit of everything in his character. He’s a bit insane, a bit of an ass, and a bit intense. If it wasn’t for Shannon’s performance, the film wouldn’t work at all. His performance is why you root for the heroes and why you accept the sea monster/human woman relationship. You root for them to stick it to Michael Shannon.

As for the rest of the cast, Octavia Spencer is enjoyable as Elisa’s work friend, Zelda. Then again there’s nothing that truly stands out from her performance here and her other roles. Michael Stuhlbarg is mysterious in his role as Dr. Hoffstetler. Also, it’s impressive to see the duality of his role and what it took to play the character.

Overall, The Shape of Water is a joyous film to watch. It has everything you want in a film too. It’s got heart, suspense, romance, action, and gore. It’s quite possibly his best film since Pan’s Labyrinth. In many ways, you can see all of del Toro’s heart and soul in this film. As a matter of fact, it could very well win best picture of the year. Especially since The Shape of Water received the most nominations from the LA Online Film Critics Society and the Critics’ Choice Awards,. It’s that good.

Rating: 5/5 atoms

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