The Shape Of Water Film Review
Barely two years after Crimson Peak, Guillermo del Toro is back with another project set in another (past) time. The Shape Of Water is his latest work and it’s beautiful and creepy as you can imagine.
Sally Hawkins plays Eliza Espozito in The Shape of Water. A mute and lonely woman living in 60’s Baltimore. She works the night shifts as a janitor at the Occam Aerospace Research Center (a secret government facility) and spends the days of work with her next door neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) a closeted commercial artist. On particular day, Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) will bring The Asset (Doug Jones) to the facility and her life will be forever changed. Along with her co-workers Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer) and Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) will kidnap the Asset in order to set him free into the Atlantic Ocean… But that won’t be sooo easy.
The Shape of Water has that perfect balance of weirdness and social awareness that can only come from the mind of a genius like Del Toro. The weird almost goes into surreal mode at times, but it does not hurt the movie to be honest. It’s endearing at times, and the love story between one mute woman and an amphibious humanoid creature like the Asset can fall in this category.
The weird and almost surreal part of is in the similarities of the two mute characters too. They share uniqueness and isolation and will manage to rise above it with love and adoration for each other. But the social awareness and the political undertones sneaks in very gradually and in the most subtitle way possible. Whether it’s the way the homosexuals are depicted and scrutinized in most aspects of society. Whether it’s the role of the housewife in the 60’s, whether it’s the fear of Soviet domination in the atmosphere of the era. You can find glimpses of all of those sub-themes and you’ll notice them throughout the movie, despite the fact that the movie has pacing problems at times.
The movie is visually beautiful as it is rich in characters. The set production and the cinematography works wonders for the era in which the movie is set but you’ll love the characters in The Shape of Water. All the characters. Trust me, you may not love or approve of the characters, but several days after seeing the movie you’ll remember all the characters. And I do mean all. You’ll also notice some similarities to the characters from the previous Del Toro movies. For instance one can’t help but notice that The Asset is very similar to Abe Sapiens from the Hellboy franchise (both characters are played by the talented Doug Jones). Both characters came from a Del Toro movies, both have similar looks and both love eggs. Just to name a few.
Del Toro managed to capture the warmth with the scares perfectly and surprisingly managed to throw in a wonderful and dancing medley number of Eliza and the Asset all shot in black and white just to make it even bigger love letter to the old Hollywood classic cinema. Cause it is.
Hawkins is the queen of the show here, but on the other side of the spectrum is the fantastic performance of Michael Shannon. He’s just so good ad playing villains, and Del Toro knows how to make this predicament into a glorious asset. By crafting a great villain character of course. But here the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Can’t deny that the parts are not great, but at the end of those 123 minutes you’ll be leaving the movie theaters pleasantly surprised from The Shape of Water.