The Shape of Water is Guillermo del Toro’s latest film and tells the story of a mute janitor Elisa Esposito working at a secret government facility who falls for an amphibian creature (Doug Jones) that’s being held at the facility. The film is set in the year 1961 as it has a Cold War backdrop which as a history buff I love when films take place in certain eras of history. Along with Elisa on this journey is her best friend Giles (Richard Jenkins) who is a closeted gay man and her African-American coworker Zelda (Octavia Spencer). However, the person in charge of the facility Strickland (Michael Shannon) wants to keep the creature to study and torture so it can possibly be used against the Soviets. Now this all may sound weird and unorthodox from a story perspective, but as the film unfolds it becomes this beautiful and artistic love story.
The four central characters (Elisa, the creature, Giles, and Zelda) are outsiders and rejects, something I identify with, that I know in real life, and share common personality traits with. Guillermo created such relatable and heartfelt characters that I see in my own life. Without a doubt, the performances from everyone in this movie are great. Sally Hawkins is guaranteed for an Oscar nomination and being able to go a whole movie without speaking, hats off to you and bravo. The supporting cast is exceptional Octavia Spencer is great, Richard Jenkins is terrific in a role that I haven’t seen him in before. Doug Jones who is in most of Guillermo’s films continues to show how great of an actor he is and the characters he creates through the makeup and prosthetics. Finally, Michael Shannon yet again delivers and proves how well he is at portraying sociopathic characters.
There are a few and interesting aspects of the film I want to be able to point out, for one this is a love letter to classic films and musicals. The scenes with Elisa and the creature really bring that out in the movie and you can tell as a viewer that Guillermo is subtly relaying that to the audience. Also, the score in the film conducted by Alexandre Desplat sounds like a classical French film which adds to the romanticism of the overall story. Greenas a color is present all throughout the film and gives the story an aquatic look and feel to it, that combined with wonderful cinematography translates into an artistically rich looking film. Guillermo combines all these elements along with his love for horror and makes the film a wonder to behold on screen.
The Shape of Water is a magical and heartwarming film. It takes elements from so many different genres and what we see as an audience is an adult fairytale come to life created so brilliantly by Guillermo del Toro. It is a film for today’s society and culture as it reflects on current issues the world is facing today, but it is also a story with wonderful characters that we can relate or identify with. Guillermo del Toro has crafted a beautiful film that brings so much to the screen and is a breath of fresh air for the struggles we all face today.