Review The Shape of Water (2017) – The Shape of Water is the newest film from famed auteur Guillermo del Toro. A fantasy romantic drama set in 1962, it features all of the quintessential quirks of a great del Toro film. He’s famous for his production design, costumes and most of all, his creatures which you might have seen in the Hellboy series, Pan’s Labyrinth or Pacific Rim. Most of his previous films have had the essence of youth tied to them despite being pretty dark.
Review The Shape of Water (2017)
The Shape of Water however is del Toro taking a pass at the struggles of adulthood and some of the issues surrounding modern American culture. He chooses to paint this modern picture through the lens of the Cold War though so as to remove the themes from their current incendiary state.
The Shape of Water follows a mousy, mute woman named Eliza (Sally Hawkins) who works as a janitor at a top secret government facility in Baltimore. She is intelligent yet unable to reach this potential due to the limitations of her condition. It is clear that she is an outcast and feels misunderstood by the people around her, even her friends. Her friends include the closeted Giles (Richard Jenkins) and fellow janitor, Zelda (Octavia Spencer) who are also outcasts in their own way. The story picks up when the facility receives “the asset” which is a top secret object of research. Eliza clashes with the repulsive Strickland played by Michael Shannon. Without giving too much away as it detracts from the initial response, the asset becomes a very intriguing centerpiece that forms this beautiful metaphor for love, compassion, and understanding.
Guillermo del Toro has managed to craft a beautiful piece of art that is difficult to come to terms with in your first response. The film is extremely dense, filled with meaning, allegory and complex themes. The visuals are stunning from the soft body horror to the sets and the costumes. The film is romantically tied to the color green which plays a huge part in shaping the tone especially as we reach the climax. Sally Hawkins’ performance can not go without praise as well. Playing a mute woman that delivers so much emotion is a difficult task for an actor and selling the love story in a way that feels meaningful is even more so. Michael Shannon also deserves recognition as he plays the villain so perfectly. He takes on this role where he is not just a man but a metaphor of a greater cultural trait. Strickland is a larger than life villain in a mans body.
While seeing The Shape of Water, look past the almost humorous oddity and really dig deeper and you’ll leave with a sense of lightness where the world starts to look a little bit different. The film really is that beautiful and meaningful. It is definitely not one for youngsters or even casual film fans. Those that are committed to the art of film can’t go without seeing it however. It will be an Oscar contender in several categories and will be one of the most highly regarded films of the year. Guillermo del Toro continues the incredible string of films from Mexican directors as they set the bar for film excellence. He is a force to be reckoned with and ignoring his genius is not an option.
Review The Shape of Water (2017) characters and cast include:
Elisa Esposito – Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky, Never Let Me Go, Blue Jasmine, Vera Drake, Layer Cake)
Richard Strickland – Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, Nocturnal Animals, Fahrenheit 451, Elvis & Nixon, Boardwalk Empire, Mud, 8 Mile, Man of Steel)
Giles – Richard Jenkins (Berlin Station, The Hollars, Bone Tomahawk, Olive Kitteridge, Killing Them Softly, White House Down, Step Brothers, Burn After Reading, Six Feet Under)
Zelda Fuller – Octavia Spencer (The Shack, Hidden Figures, Mom, Fruitvale Station, The Help)
Dr. Robert Hoffstetler – Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man, Fargo, Steve Jobs, Boardwalk Empire, Hitchcock, Hugo)
Amphibian Man – Doug Jones (Star Trek: Discovery, The Strain, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Watch)
Fleming – David Hewlett (Cube, Dark Matter, Stargate: Atlantis, Cypher, Rise of the Planet of the Apes)
General Hoyt – Nick Searcy (Landline, Justified, Moneyball, Fried Green Tomatoes, Cast Away, The Fugitive)
Bernard – Stewart Arnott (Schitt’s Creek, 11.22.63, Prisoner X)
Mihalkov – Nigel Bennett (Murdoch Mysteries, The Border, Legends of the Fall, Cypher, Forever Knight)