The Shape of Water
You can tell when a film is by Guillermo Del Toro, he has such a unique style because he doesn’t let any outside forces influence him or bend his creative mind whatsoever. This has led him down a path to successes (Pan’s Labyrinth), but also to heavy criticism (Pacific Rim, Crimson Peak), nevertheless he has not let his recent cold streak deter his vision, and he has now come out with one of the most beautiful films of the year.
The Shape of Water is the love story between Elisa (Sally Hawkin) a mute janitor in a lab, and a mysterious aquatic creature being held captive there (Doug Jones). The film also includes the antagonism with the chauvinist head of the lab, Richard (Michael Shannon), and Elisa’s relationships with her chatty co-worker, Zelda (Octavia Spencer), and her friendly insecure neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins).
The film is clearly done by a movie fan; there are simply so many molded film genres here, from the romance at the center, to a spy film, a heist movie, there a subtle nods of political and social commentary, there are frightening and gore-filled scenes, there’s even and old-school choreographed musical sequence, and of course this is also a monster movie. Somehow, with all this hybridity, Del Toro makes it work, so that there is a perfect balance for everything.
This film is not only beautiful and adorable, but also incredibly unique. Every single role in this film from the actors, who are cast perfectly, to the music and set design, everything could have only have been executed by the specific person chosen for that job. Every single cog in this fabulous piece was pristine and at the top of its game. There is such care and love poured into this film, that five minutes in, I could already tell that I was going to love it.
Then there’s the subtleties imbued in the film, Del Toro chooses to go small with every action, therefore letting the produced emotion emanate all the larger. The fact that neither of the principal characters can speak is a significant challenge, and yet we feel so much more for them than if they had been given lines; it speaks highly of Hawkins’ magnificent performance (her best yet), and Del Toro’s delicate sense of character.
The film has a distinct European feel, with the beautiful choice of songs and the sweet music by Alexandre Desplat. Every choice in every frame is done with such care and passion; it infects you with artful ardor. It’s movies like this that make me love cinema and it’s magic.