Film column: 'The Shape of Water' tells an unusual love story

Film column: 'The Shape of Water' tells an unusual love story
Photo courtesy of RottenTomatoes.com

Going into a movie about a relationship between a woman and a fishman, I was skeptical to say the least.

"The Shape Of Water" is a 2017 film directed, produced and written by Guillermo del Toro. This film stars Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito, a lonely and mute woman working as a janitor in a top secret government facility in the 1960s, as she forms an unlikely relationship with an aquatic creature that is held in captivity. The supporting cast includes actor Doug Jones as the Fishman (referred to mostly as "the asset"), Octavia Spencer as Zelda Fuller, Michael Shannon as Richard Strickland and Richard Jenkins as Giles. 

I’m very happy to report that this movie turned out to be absolutely beautiful, with a truly unique and captivating love story. I really loved this movie.

The highlight of this film has to be Sally Hawkins as Elisa. Since her character is mute, Hawkins does all of her acting through her face and body, really adding emotion and believability to her struggle to not be alone. She has one scene in particular that will surely make her much deserved Oscar reel, and in a stacked best actress category this year it might help her stand out. 

Octavia Spencer is in this film for one reason only – to be the comedic relief. She plays the coworker and best friend of Elisa, who really loves to talk. The dynamic between the two is outstanding, despite one actress not being able to speak. Michael Shannon plays the bad guy of the film, and he does a great job being evil. From the second he is on screen, there is a feeling of pure malice. The arc of his character is one of the more satisfying aspects of the film. His fall from grace is tragic and it's hard to look away. 

Last, but certainly not least, Richard Jenkins’s character Giles is the neighbor of Elisa, who’s a washed up artist struggling to find love. In less superior films, he would’ve been used to help the plot, and nothing else. However, in this film he is given a reason for doing everything he does, and his character is given a very satisfying arc.

Guillermo del Toro is a master at his craft. This film is unbelievably gorgeous to look at, while just oozing originality and creativity. The direction is captivating, yet subtle and moving. On paper this movie should not work; the idea is just too insane for anyone besides Guillermo to tackle it. This is his masterpiece. It is hauntingly gorgeous, original love story that really fires on all cylinders. Some of the writing is slightly too on the nose, but besides from that it’s hard for me to think of anything wrong with this film. 

This is not a movie for everyone. However, if you’re interested in an original love story, with great acting, direction, and insanely well done creature design, I would highly recommend giving “The Shape of Water” a try. 

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