The Shape of Water (2017) Review

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, horror, sex scenes & offensive language
Cast:
Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito
Michael Shannon as Colonel Richard Strickland
Richard Jenkins as Giles
Octavia Spencer as Zelda Fuller
Doug Jones as Amphibian Man
Michael Stuhlbarg as Dr. Robert Hoffstetler
Director: Guillermo del Toro

Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute, isolated woman who works as a cleaning lady in a hidden, high-security government laboratory in 1962 Baltimore. Her life changes forever when she discovers the lab’s classified secret — a mysterious, scaled creature (Doug Jones) from South America that lives in a water tank. As Elisa develops a unique bond with her new friend, she soon learns that its fate and very survival lies in the hands of a hostile government agent (Michael Shannon) and a marine biologist (Michael Stuhlbarg).

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I’ve been hearing a lot about The Shape of Water for a while in the lead up to awards season. I really like Guillermo del Toro, I’ve seen most of his movies and really liked them, even those which aren’t that wholly well received like Crimson Peak. The Shape of Water looked like it would be one of his best yet and having finally seen it, I have to say that this actually just might be Guillermo del Toro’s best film yet, which is saying a lot considering many of the films he’s made. The Shape of Water is absolutely magnificent and already a guaranteed classic.

I loved the story of The Shape of Water, it’s beautiful, it’s dark, it’s absorbing, it dabbles in multiple genres and it all works perfectly. All the major characters are given a lot of depth and their own arcs. Fortunately, the marketing department seemed to learn their lesson from Crimson Peak and knew this time to not market The Shape of Water as a full on horror movie, because it’s definitely not that. Sure, it’s dark at many points, it doesn’t hold back, it’s R rating is well earned and serves the story appropriately. But this isn’t a horror movie. It also feels very grounded in real life, the only difference is that this creature actually exists in the world. The Shape of Water has a very fairy tale-like vibe to it and it actually works well in the film. Del Toro also does well showing why Elisa would fall in love with this creature. As weird as the concept sounds on paper, you completely buy it because del Toro conveys it so well. In fact there are a lot of ‘weird’ elements to the movie and at least for me, I never questioned any of it, as I said, Guillermo del Toro makes it all work. The Shape of Water is around 2 hours long and it is the perfect length. I was consistently absorbed in the story from start to finish and really don’t have any qualms with any of it. I’m not going to go into much more depth in regards to the story, it’s something you really need to experience for yourself.

Everyone is great in this movie. Sally Hawkins is incredible here, she doesn’t speak and has to express her emotions through her facial and body language and she is absolutely wonderful here. While I haven’t seen much from Hawkins, it might be one of her best performances, it’s at the very least one of the best performances of the year. Doug Jones also deserves praise for playing the Amphibian create that Sally’s Elisa falls in love with. He doesn’t say a single word either and can convey so much, unsurprisingly considering how great he is in these kind of roles, he’s pretty much the Andy Serkis of practical effects. He really does give the creature life. Both Hawkins and Jones have so much great chemistry without speaking at all. Michael Shannon as usual is a scene stealer as the antagonist of the film, he does so well at coming across more like a monster than the actual amphibian creature. The other supporting actors are also great and do well to leave an impression, like Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Stuhlbarg.

Guillermo del Toro did such a fantastic job at directing this movie, you can definitely tell that it’s his direction. The cinematography by Dan Laustsen was great, the colours particularly were used perfectly, creating some beautiful sequences. There was a sequence in the last act of the movie which was very surprising and comes right out of left field, and yet del Toro somehow made it work. When you watch the movie, you’ll know exactly what moment I’m referring to. Del Toro also does well to fully convey it’s time and setting with the production design, music etc, making it feel authentic to real life. The actual amphibian creature (which is practical) was designed very well and is very believable. The music by Alexandre Desplat was also very effective, very enchanting. Overall I think The Shape of Water is a perfectly directed movie.

Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is incredible, it was even better than I thought it would be, and I thought it was going to be great. The story was great, the performances were all amazing and del Toro’s direction was perfect. The Shape of Water is one of my favourite movies of 2017, Guillermo del Toro really has crafted a beautiful film that deserves to be seen by many. I can already tell that this is going to be a future classic.

1 thought on “The Shape of Water (2017) Review

  1. Pingback: Top 20 Best Movies of 2017 | The Cinema Critic

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