Released December 8th
The Shape of Water is truly pure fantasy, and as such this work needs to reach us on a universal gut level and tug at our deepest instincts and emotions. In Guillermo del Toro’s expert hands this universality is rendered perfectly. I believe that in writing and directing this film del Toro has proven himself to be one of the great filmmakers of our time.
On the surface the movie reflects the period of the1950’s and also the style of ‘50’s science fiction movies. Del Toro has taken the crudely drawn SciFi fantasies of that time period and introduced today’s technology and his own imaginative genius as an artist and storyteller to create an amphibian so vivid and so close to human that it’s easy to forget he’s a creature. He resembles the monster in Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) yet he is drawn with considerably more sophistication. The result is a totally believable modern day fairy tale. It will seem outlandish at first, and then slowly it draws you in, just as Sally Hawkins’ cleaning lady character “Eliza” is drawn to the creature.
The story is set in the 1950’s as well, and there are thought-provoking comparisons drawn between the mores and culture of that era in our country and that of our own time. The style of the film is very visual – note that the two of the main characters never speak, yet are able to carry the story. The rich colors and the lighting are symbolic in every scene. Watch the creature’s nerve endings – they protrude from his skin and light up according to what he is feeling. The emotional metaphor of water is also a prominent character in this film. The powerful sound track by the legendary composer Andre Desplat, recalls French musicals of the period, very rich and emotional.
As I was watching the film, I felt that no one could have played the role of Eliza but Sally Hawkins, and indeed, I found out later that Del Toro wrote the role for her. She is an extraordinary actress who needs only her eyes, face and physical movement to express her deepest emotions. She started acting after being diagnosed as dyslexic as a child as the drama lessons helped her with her command of words. Octavia Spencer is superb as Elisa’s co-worker, “Zelda,” who provides all the dialogue to move the story forward and succeeds beautifully in establishing the natural rhythm of the narrative. Michael Shannon is one of the few actors who can portray a thoroughly evil person and still convey hidden redeeming qualities.
The Shape of Water is a must-see, one of the best movies of not just 2017…of forever.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. firstname.lastname@example.org. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com