Guillmero del Toro has always been a master of crafting fantastical worlds, but none is quite as visually stunning and emotional as The Shape of Water. The film follows Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute and lonely young woman who works as a cleaning lady in a high-security government facility in the early 1960’s. Her daily routine is forever changed when she forms a unique relationship with the mysterious creature who is being held captive in the facility’s classified labs.
The Shape of Water felt very reminiscent of old Hollywood classics but with an unconventional and darkly fantastical twist. Although the film has elements similar to the classic fairytale, Beauty and the Beast, it is much more than just the “mermaid romance” it is being pegged as. It is about love, friendship, social justice and accepting one’s self as they are in a time where so many norms were not accepted (both racial and sexual differences are touched upon). The Shape of Water also celebrates the art of film, sprinkling in bits of nostalgia such as classic Hollywood musical references.
The most mesmerizing part of the film is the ability to convey powerful emotion without the use of words. As they do not share a spoken language, the love between Elisa and the creature is explored purely through body language and facial expression. Sally Hawkins is remarkable as Elisa, saying so much without saying anything at all. Her eyes truly sold the story. We felt her pain. We felt her fear. We felt her fall in love. There are not many actresses who can do that and for that should be applauded. Hawkins proves herself as a front runner this upcoming awards season.
In a time where we all need to escape our daily reality, diving into the dazzling watery world of The Shape of Water is a solid way to do so.
Final Thoughts: Guillemero del Toro’s imaginative masterpiece, The Shape of Water, is a dark, magical and visually stunning fantasy full of romance and nostalgia.