The Shape of Water – Film Review
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writers: Guillermo del Toro (screenplay by), Vanessa Taylor (screenplay by)
Stars: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer,
Elisa Esposito (Hawkins) works as a janitor in a top secret research facility. She mops the floors and cleans the toilets along with her friend Zelda (Spencer) while the scientists and secret agent types scurry around ignoring her. In some ways she is perfect for the job, as she is mute. She lives a quiet life in a one bedroom apartment. Her next-door neighbour Giles (Jenkins) is her only friend outside work. One day the facility brings in a strange creature for their research. It is some type of bizarre sea creature. Elisa develops an unlikely friendship with this strange life form!
This is the work of director Guillermo del Toro and his first feature film since Crimson Peak in 2015. In some ways, this almost feels like a continuation of Hellboy (2004) as there were many such creatures lurking in the margins of that film. One of the most fascinating things about this film is that the budget was a mere 20m dollars. In a time where films costing five or six times this are commonplace, it shows what a talent such as del Toro is capable of.
The performances are electric throughout. One of the best things about it is how rich the minor characters are, with Jenkins and Spencer being among the highlights of the film. Michael Shannon is enjoyable as the soulless secret agent who is not capable of seeing the beauty in life. Sally Hawkins has created another sad and lonely individual and continues her rise in the film world. While the Oscar will no doubt evade her, she gives the character depth and heart.
Despite the talk of plagiarism in this film, it hardly matters as it is very much a pastiche. The plot is slightly formulaic and there are few surprises. This is a classic B-movie, just with a great cast and a heck of a lot of style. The film is set in the 60s and the costumes along with the lush greens and blues of the cinematography give the film a dreamy visual style, harking back to another era. It’s a film that people will fall in love with. Go see it…