Movie Review: ‘THE SHAPE OF WATER ‘ (2017)
Guillermo Del Toro is a master of compelling and moving films that sometimes feature monsters and fantastical elements as well. So it’s no surprise that the ace director brings a somewhat, different kind of monster movie to the big screen in ‘The Shape Of Water’.
‘The Shape Of Water’ reinvents an old tale into an adult oriented drama that is quietly beautiful.
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The movie begins with a fairytale narration that instantly sets the tone. A sweet and epic fantasy tale that is eerie yet soft. We’re introduced to Elisa (Sally Hawkins) a mute girl in this world all by herself, except for a neighbour that’s her best friend, and a protective coworker who helps her navigate her, at times aggressive workplace. We get glimpses into Elisa’s quiet life; isolated, but content. She works at a mysterious government facility, where one day, a strange creature is brought in.
Elisa forms a friendship with the water-bound creature, teaching him to communicate, as they bond over a mutual interest of music. However, the creature is there for other purposes that becomes clear soon enough, causing Elisa to take matters into her own hands, and protect her new friend, or maybe more.Sally Hawkins as Elisa in ‘The Shape Of Water’, directed by Guillermo Del Toro.
‘The Shape Of Water’ is a wonderfully crafted film that is able to reinvent the conventional love story. Imagine a re-telling of ‘Beauty And the Beast’, but more adult and erotically charged. Director Guillermo Del Toro handles the unique love story with immense heart and subtlety.
One of the best things about ‘The Shape Of Water’ is that, despite featuring a protagonist that is physically challenged, Elisa is still a sexually empowered woman for whom her handicap is anything but. Her disability is not a plot point for the movie, but a matter of fact that enhances the relationship she shares with the creature; finding common ground in their separation from the conventional world.Michael Shannon and Sally Hawkins in ‘The Shape Of Water’ (2017)
‘The Shape Of Water’ is a movie that delicately balances the overtly dramatic, spy-thriller elements of the background story with the fantastical relationship drama that plays out in the foreground. As Elisa and the creature’s love story develops, there is also the nature of the mysterious government man, (Michael Shannon) trying to hunt the creature down.
Del Toro gets the most out of his actors at every turn. Shannon plays the antagonist, but is still able to depict the character as nuanced, and somewhat interesting, while also being blatantly dangerous at times. Richard Jenkins as Elisa’s neighbour has a wonderfully subtle subplot, where even he has to deal with elements of who he is, and how he fits into this world. Jenkins gives a great performance here as a soft spoken, broken man, whose only solace in life is his friendship with Elisa. Octavia Spencer, as Elisa’s co-worker, is her own charming self, in another role where she plays the tough but loving friend.Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones in ‘The Shape Of Water’.
Sally Hawkins steals the show as Elisa, in one of her best performances ever. Hawkins conveys more through her eyes, and a curl of her lips than some actors can with full dialogue. Her playful demeanour and whimsical nature is heartwarming to see, and causes the audience to instantly form a bond with her character, rooting for her all the way to the end.
‘The Shape Of Water’ is a movie that is truly able to blend the genres of fantasy, romance and other storytelling elements that elevate this movie from, what could easily have been perceived as a cheesy B movie, into a stunning piece of cinema that touches hearts.