Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” is many things. It’s a period drama. It’s a Cold War film. It’s a monster movie. It’s even a love story.
Filled with mystery, intrigue, and government secrets, “The Shape of Water,” seems familiar. It opens like a fairy tale as we wander through an underwater kingdom and meet our submerged princess, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), for the first time.
Narrated by her artist neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins), we’re introduced to a character who is very ordinary. She follows her daily routine, which is nothing special: preparing her lunch, taking a bath, visiting with her neighbor and catching the bus for work. Her work consists of cleaning up, with her only other friend, Zelda (Octavia Spencer), after scientists at a top-secret government facility.
What makes her special isn’t what she is, but what she is lacking—her voice.
When a new “project,” arrives, accompanied by the self righteous jerk, Colonel Richard Strickland, her life changes forever. He brings with him an amphibious creature (Doug Jones) found in South America.
The voiceless creature forms a bond with the voiceless Elisa, one that quickly escalates when she decides to break him out.
The story is sweet and unsurprising yet filled with the unexpected. There are touches of old Hollywood charm with Elisa living over an old movie theater. It’s a small detail that adds to the magic.
The look of the film is gorgeous with muted, but lush tones. It lends itself perfectly to the fantastical and secretive nature of the story.
As the leading lady, Elisa, Sally Hawkins is perfection. Though she never speaks a word, her performance speaks volumes. The power her character inhabits is inspiring. She never feels less than, or lacking. She offers a reminder that we all have our own ways of making our way through the world.
There’s nothing flashy or over the top about “The Shape of Water.” However, there is a deep profoundness. It seeps into your soul and satisfies that craving for a good, beautifully told story with an unexpected ending and a few twists and turns along the way.
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