The Shape of Water
Elisa 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 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 and a marine biologist.
I simply could not give this movie review anything less than four stars, and if you know me, it’s extremely rare that I ever give anything above a 3-star rating and that’s simply because movies now days seem to rehash the same things over and over again. However, some can get pretty creative with the old and worn material. That being said, The Shape of Water indeed gets a 4-star rating from this girl. Seriously, it’s one of the most brilliant and magnificent films I’ve come across in a good while. It’s a masterpiece, plain and simple. Everything from the beauty of it, the magic, the tragedy, the amazing deliverance of the actors themselves, all exceeded my deepest anticipations of this film.
The story behind Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), is that she was found abandoned as a child by the side of a river with wounds on her neck. She is also mute and communicates only through sign language. Elisa lives alone in her apartment above a theater, and works as a janitor at the Occam Aerospace Research Center, a top-secret government laboratory in Baltimore, Maryland, during the Cold War. She hardly has any friends, save the recluse next-door neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), who is a middle-aged man struggling as an advertising illustrator, and Zelda (Octavia Spencer), a female co-worker who is also her interpreter at work.
Elisa seems to go through the same routine day after day, sleeping during the day and working at night as a cleaning lady. When the facility brings in a mysterious creature captured from the Amazon River by Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), who is in charge of the project to study it. the creature is simply called an “asset” and turns out to be an amphibious man. The creature is kept in shackles, cut, electrocuted, suffocated, and all other manners of torture inflicted by the military, ordered by Colonel Richard Strickland. The fact that the two beings must communicate non-verbally makes it all seem to make sense. The creature, while not handsome by human sensibilities, has a certain character doesn’t make him repulsive.
Elisa spends as much time as she can with the amphibious man, introducing him to music, feeding him hard-boiled eggs, and teaching him to sign language. Over time the two become close, and soon enough it becomes clear that the military has decided to terminate the creature, they want him killed and dissected immediately, so Elisa attempts to free the man-fish who she has now fallen in love with. Understandably, Elisa persuades Giles to help her free her man-fish. Mosenkov, who is really a Soviet spy, stumbles upon Elisa’s plot in progress and chooses to help her. Though initially reluctant, Zelda also becomes involved heart-pounding escape.
The Shape of Water was an absolutely beautiful film that’s filled with love, friendship, violence, and cruelty. Every character’s performance was exceptional, especially Richard Jenkins as Giles and Michael Shannon as Colonel Strickland. The pacing is a little slow at times but barely noticeable. The mystery of the creature isn’t dwelled upon because we all know what it is. More time is dedicated to getting to know all the characters, building up their relationship, and moving the plot along. It’s a wonderful movie with a bizarre premise that makes it a touching, emotional work of art. It’s a fairy tale for grown-ups after all. While del Toro’s imagination is primarily responsible for everything involved, it is Hawkins who makes it work. I fully recommend this film to everyone.
Title: The Shape of Water
Release Date: December 22, 2017
Runtime: 2 hours, 3 minutes
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Drama
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon
MPAA Rated: R
Directors: Guillermo del Toro
Reviewed by: Kathryn Price
Our Rating: 4.0 /5
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