2017 - 123 minutes - Drama / Fantasy
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Country: United States
Guillermo del Toro loves to make creature features. From his 2006 masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth to his 2013 action extravaganza Pacific Rim, del Toro films tend to focus on supernatural monsters and their interactions with humans (both positive and negative).
The Shape of Water is no different. This time, del Toro crafts a love story between two societal outcasts - a mute custodial worker on one side and a fish-person on the other. In fact, most of the film's characters are members of oppressed or marginalized groups, including Communists, African Americans, and homosexuals.
Set in the early 1960s during the height of the Cold War and Space Race, The Shape of Water features a conventional plot that unfolds mostly how one would expect. The dialogue is solid, and the acting across the board is quite good. Sally Hawkins, in particular, does a phenomenal job silently emoting through her facial expressions and sign language. The film also contains a number of interesting Biblical allusions (including the tales of Moses, Samson, and Delilah) which aid the viewer in interpreting the film's deliberately ambiguous ending.
However, like most of del Toro's films, what makes The Shape of Water truly beautiful is a unique visual flair and direction that carries most of the film's emotional weight.
|Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) comes face to face with the creature|
Del Toro's visual flair behind the lens is on full display here. The film's opening and closing scenes in particular are some of the most beautiful and atmospheric sequences I've seen in recent years. Del Toro's direction and cinematography perfectly mirror the film's mood at all times and never become obtrusive or overbearing. The visuals are perfectly accompanied by a smoothly nostalgic score by Alexandre Desplat equal parts ethereal and heartwarming.
|Del Toro's use of perspective is also a highlight of the film|
P.S. - I've been told the trailer contains A LOT of major spoilers, so I won't post it here.