I’m sitting through “The Shape of Water” with a sense of awe and majesty. We first see a flooded room, the main heroine floats back down on her couch, the water drains, she takes a bath, makes herself a hard boiled egg, lives in apartment over a movie theater, and takes the bus to her job at a government facility during The Cold War. And there, they’re holding a sea creature from South America, which the woman falls in love with. When you see all these things, you’ll feel like you’re watching a magical French or Spanish movie. “The Shape of Water” is utterly amazing.
Director Guillermo del Toro has crafted another masterpiece about a mute woman named Elisa (Sally Hawkins), who communicates with sign language while working as a janitor at a research facility, with her friend and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer), who banters about their daily routine.
Then comes Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), a sadistic and abusive agent, who finds the sea creature (Doug Jones), and locks it up in the lab.
Elisa not only befriends the creature, but she also devises a plan to free him, with the help of her artist neighbor (Richard Jenkins), Zelda, and a Russian spy posing as an American scientist (Michael Stuhlbarg). But that’s not the end of the story, as Elisa and the creature have a “Beauty and the Beast” tale, while Strickland vows to find the creature.
I know some people may think “The Shape of Water” looks scary, and it is R-rated, so there are some bloody moments. But it’s not a horror movie; it’s a strange love story that rarely gets told in the movies these days. Two species who communicate with sign language, and the artistry of del Toro really brings it to life.
I’ve seen Hawkins in two entertaining movies this year: “Maudie” and now “The Shape of Water.” She is fantastic playing disabled characters with feelings and ambitions.
Shannon makes a powerful villain. His character has a loving family, but he shows no mercy for the creature.
Jenkins, Stuhlbarg, and Spencer all round up the cast very well. But let’s not forget Jones, who is a natural at playing creatures. You really need to see the make-up and special effects used for his character.
This is one of the best films of the year.