An other-worldly story, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962, where a mute janitor working at a lab falls in love with an amphibious man being held captive there and devises a plan to help him escape.
It is a man who is so childlike and romantic that he can write such a story
A Modern Fairy Tale---The Shape of Water has received extensive appraisal from the academy this year, as it currently leads the awards race with a grand total of 13 nominations. The film has garnered a plethora of nominations in the acting, directing and technical categories. Many pundits in fact speculate that it's the favourite to win Best Picture, with Get Out coming in just behind as a close second. Despite the awards buzz, I was rather sceptical of del Torro's new film, as the academy has previously rewarded films that are dull and overly pretentious. Though over the past few years there have been some notable exceptions, for example Titanic and the Lord of the Rings. However, once this fantastical story had concluded and the credits rolled, my scepticism had been completely washed away (no pun intended). The film tells the story of Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), a mute woman who works as a cleaner at one of the US' research facilities during the height of the cold war. The aforesaid facility is run by the ambitious and cold-hearted Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), who oversees the transfer of a new research asset. This asset being an amphibious creature uncovered in South America. The film depicts an unconventional love story between Elisa and the creature, a love that has to overcome the cruelty and brutality of this world. A cruelty embodied by the prejudicial and cold Strickland.Such a fantastical story's believability is wholly dependent on the actor's ability to deliver compelling performances. Which is exactly what this talented cast does, Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins deliver both likeability and emotional depth with their characters. Surprisingly, both of their characters are also quite amusing and provide unexpected comic relief. There was a particular gag from Octavia Spencer's character, after shall we say an 'intimate 'moment', that had me laughing out loud. Ergo, what is unsurprising is that both have received acting nods from the academy.Though to me, the real standout of this stellar cast is Sally Hawkins. She wonderfully portrays a woman isolated from society due to what she feels is an inability to fully articulate herself, among other things. The fact that Hawkins' character is mute means that much of the emotional weight of her character's story is dependent on her ability to express the character's emotions physically. Something that she is able to do with great grace and beauty. There is a particular standout scene where Hawkins's facial expressions and gesticulation, manage to express how this newfound connection has lifted her character from the depths of loneliness to a place of love and acceptance. In my humble opinion, her nomination for best actress is 100% deserved.Del Torro also excels in his duty as director. He crafts a visually evocative world, which he brings to life by combining creative and colourful cinematography with an authentic 60s soundtrack. I particularly liked how he used water imagery throughout the film to illustrate both isolation and unification.The film for the most part is impressive all around, but like any movie, it isn't perfect. I would argue that there wasn't enough time dedicated enough to building the connection between Elisa and the creature. It isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, it's greatest crime is that it's 'good enough', as it adequately serves the purpose of forwarding the narrative. I feel that if more time was dedicated to building their relationship, it truly could have been an iconic cinematic romance. If such time had been invested, I feel that the dramatic climax of the third act would have been far more emotionally impactful.Despite these flaws, The Shape of Water tells a memorable story. Not because of how it interweaves its different themes using its various characters, but because of the importance of its message. It tells a story of the transcendent nature of love. A story of how love can wash away the trappings of loneliness and transcend the ugliness of prejudice. Guillermo del Torro's simple story has an important message, one that is delivered with emotional honesty, we shouldn't let mere physical attributes and so called 'flaws' tear us apart and isolate us. Rather, we should love well and love freely.
Not just a love letter to the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but to cinema itself. Del Toro's _The Shape of Water_ is the "Who is the real monster?" question taken to the nth degree, with some some fascinating side-concepts that are explored just enough to be worthwhile. At the end of the day _The Shape of Water_, at its most stripped back, is a movie about fucking a fish. But it's the kind of movie about fucking a fish that should also probably win the Academy Award for Best Picture._Final rating:★★★? - I really liked it. Would strongly recommend you give it your time._
I loved this film and it hopefully will get an Oscar.---The Shape of water will, in a few years, be one of those films that is a classic watch. It really made me feel emotional, there are a lot of characters who develop in natural ways and the whole story is simple yet effective. I will explain why I loved this film and will explain the few things I had a problem with. The pacing of the film is slightly stilted in places. No spoilers but in some scenes there are plot errors that you sit there thinking "ok how did he know to go to the docks" or "why did she not just do that in the first place". Also the fact that the effects of the creature were practical, while commendable, left me feeling that more was needed CGI wise to make him look a bit more realistic. It's not a major thing for me if the plot has holes and the practical effects look a little shaky but it is a noticeable thing that took me out of the movie a bit which ultimately loses points. The story is just so beautiful. Del Toro's best story since Pans Labyrinth HANDS DOWN. It revolves mainly around a mute woman (Elisa played masterfully by Sally Hawkins) feeling incomplete in her life. Elisa does the same boring things day in day out BUT then happens upon this creature that is her missing piece. I strongly identified with Elisa as, on a personal level, I've felt incomplete at times, as if something is missing and sally Hawkins plays the role so well. The best thing about this film is this charming, unlikely love story that is told so well and with a great deal of emotion. All the actors bring their A game. Michael Shannon is brilliant as the security guy who is himself incomplete and tries to buy his way out of feeling this way. His character is a little cheesy in places like when he tries his scare tactics. They sometimes work and are menacing and other times the dialog feels clique and just copied from any other movie. Octavia Spencer gives a fantastic performance as Zelda. She also is incomplete and uses Elisa as a sort of therapy tool. She talks to her constantly as Elisa can only listen to her problems because she is a mute. He husband doesn't understand her and ignores her half the time so Elisa is doing all the listening which really adds another level to their friendship. This film is a great example of how a great supporting cast can add so much to a story and it added that extra bit of enjoyment to every scene for me. Technical stuff is really excellent and is very much in keeping with the period it is set in. There is a ballroom scene that is shot in black and white and is just wonderful to watch. The cinematography in this is excellent. There are a lot of greens, blues and teal colour pallets used to resemble the sea and the colours water gives off. When we deviate to a sub plot the colour seems to change giving me a sense of tonal shift that is just really interesting to note and separates the different characters from their respective plots. The 1950's/1960's music is brilliant and it help create the cold war atmosphere that this film is set in. It has a distinct theatrical theme that presents the romance as something that is "straight out of the movies" and a romance that is just time less. Again going back the ballroom scene as a prime example of the way Elisa and the creature feel about each other. The music swirls all around like they are both swimming in one another's feeling for each other. Needless to say I found this film very emotionally powerful and entertaining. There are points that don't work and it's not a 10/10 but it made me look at my own sense of incompletion. At the end of the day isn't that what art is meant to do? Make you feel and look within to find a sense of self? For that reason this film will always be a favourite of mine. This film deserves at least one Oscar. Really Worth a Watch.
Bizarre adult fairy tale love story---It's the 60s, the era of Cold War. The Americans are living their dream, while at the same time fearing the nuclear bomb and the Red Threat. Spy game is in full bloom and both of the great nations are vying for technological supremacy. In the midst of this, a most curious specimen arrives at a space research laboratory in Baltimore. A being unlike anything seen by modern science. But curiously it's the mute cleaning woman, who best seems to understand this beastman.Guillermo del Toro has always traveled down his own path. In fact, I'm unsure whether he even knows the main path exists at all. With The Shape of Water he returns back to the genre of adult fairy tales. Quite like his previous film, Pan's Labyrinth. And truth be told, these two films have much in common. Both feature female characters struggling between two worlds, those of myth and reality. In both the myth offers an escape both from the fears and horrors of the real world. In both it's the reality that reveals itself to be the source of true evil.That being said, there are differences. The setting is quite different, changing war-torn Spain for Cold War United States, though both of these locations are treated with a critical and nostalgic touch, although the films don't forget to have a smile every now and then either. And whereas Pan's Labyrinth was told through the eyes of a child protagonist, reflecting and talking about the fears and challenges of childhood, The Shape of Water has as its main character a woman. A sexually frustrated, lonely woman. And the film reflects that quite nicely. It's a risque film in many respects and I doff my hat to del Toro for having the guts to go all the way.It's also a beautifully acted film. Sally Hawkins is marvelous, especially having to play a mute person. Yet her soul is laid bare in front of us and we struggle alongside her through her hardships and victories. Michael Shannon as Colonel Strickland gives a great performance as well and I do feel he was slightly snubbed in not getting an Oscar nomination.If I was forced to choose, I would say Pan's Labyrinth is the better film. But it's a minute difference. The Shape of Water is a beautiful, thoughtful film that shows del Toro to be one of the best storytellers of our time.
Deep and beautiful as the water of its title---"The Shape of Water" is director Guillermo del Toro's finest film, a lovely, empathetic tribute to Old Hollywood, monster movies, outsiders and love that could only come from the mind of the visionary filmmaker and takes elements from "Beauty and the Beast". Del Toro creates a beautifully imagined world and characters, shot in blue and green hues, with touches of humour and social commentary. Sally Hawkins's performance is career-defining. With her eyes, mouth and physicality, she finds a level of emotional greatness. Her character Elisa may not speak, but you are never in doubt about what she is feeling. Like the water of its title, the film is deep, mysterious and beautiful. Definitely a must - see!
Self-congratulatory and Gratuitous Despite Technical Triumph---Del Toro's gift for effective story-telling cannot be denied. However, the film plays perfectly into mainstream Hollywood sensibilities, does not have a profound artistic vision, and fails to challenge the audience in any meaningful way. It has the quintessential villain in the liberal cultural imagination today - a racist, sexist, ableist, psychopathic white man in the 60s. He lives in a bourgeois suburban neighborhood and has the quintessential white nuclear family. The fact that he is made to exhibit psychopathic behaviors is of course a way to obscure the irreducibly cultural, structural, and political conditions that the film purports to problematize. The equally cut-and-dry story is about people living at the margins of society bonding over their mutually subjugated status. The self-congratulatory moralistic undertone of this film suspends any need for serious cultural reflection. Shown to conservatives, the film is unlikely to have any converts to progressive politics. Shown to liberals, it will only confirm their pre-established identitarian convictions. Sprinkled with some gratuitous violence, it is the perfect candidate for the Oscars - a polished, glib, pandering, ostensibly radical fairy tale that ultimately does not have any enduring contribution to an already mediocre culture.
Pure movie magic in my favourite film of 2017---I fell in love with this movie from the opening scene. It is everything a great movie should be -- a compelling story with wonderful characters; it looks amazing, both through natural cinematography and visual effects; it is familiar enough to be warm yet new enough to be boldly original; the casting is perfect. I originally saw this at a press screening at The Toronto International Film Festival in September and I was so enthralled that I did something I have never done before: I went back to see the same movie again at the same film festival. The second viewing was in The Elgin Theatre in Toronto which is used as a key location in the film, so the audience erupted into applause when we reached the main scene set there -- we were watching the characters standing in a cinema in 1960s Baltimore, yet they were in the very cinema in which we were watching them! It was the icing on the cake in terms of sealing the magic into the viewing experience. I even sat in the same row of the cinema as the characters in the movie were placed. I had the privilege of attending writer/director Guillermo del Toro's screen talk at The London Film Festival and hearing more about the production, including its childhood connection to Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Simply wonderful.
A beguiling and strange jewel of a movie---I just saw The Shape of Water, and loved it. What a beguiling and strange jewel of a movie. I think it's a masterpiece of the cinematic arts. 9/10 stars. Guillermo del Toro is a brilliant filmmaker.
Never mind the air ... Love is in the water!---Del Toro has made his masterpiece. The Shape of Water is a mature, fantastical romance with a nostalgic Key-Lime slice of the Hollywood B-Movie classics of which we know he loves.It is beautiful story that explores broken people living in a hostile world, reaching out for a connection.Elisa's story is one of resourcefulness when vulnerable, showing the strength of compassion, love and empathy when all seems lost.The visual style was outstanding and dragged (or rather, waltz'd) me back to the look and feel of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's The City of Lost Children with it's film-noir-esque use of light, shape and rain.And as for the monster ... I've said it before, and I'll say it again .. I love the way Doug Jones moves!