Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Shape of Water

Movie Name: The Shape of Water
Year of Release: 2017
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Stars: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Hewlett, Nick Searcy, Stewart Arnott, Nigel Bennett, Lauren Lee Smith, Martin Roach, Allegra Fulton, John Kapelos, Morgan Kelly
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 9
View Trailer

Celebrated director Guillermo Del Toro is back, following the beautiful "Crimson Peak", with one of his most well received films (it won the Golden Lion for best picture at the Venice Film Festival). The film takes place in the early 60s, against the backdrop of the Cold War. We're introduced to the lovely (and mute) Elisa, who lives in a small studio above a movie theater, with an illustrator/commercial artist as a neighbor/best friend. Elisa works as a janitor at the Occam Aerospace Research Center in Baltimore, working the night shift with her friend Zelda. One evening, they both witness the arrival of a special container, alongside a special team commandeered by the stern Colonel Richard Strickland. The team also includes the scientist Robert Hoffstetler, who is responsible for the analysis of the creature inside the container. Elisa soon discovers that the container held an amphibian creature captured in South America, and starts offering food and progressively communicating with the creature. As their relationship intensifies, so does the plans for the military to dissect the creature, and learn what they must from it, against the recommendations of the scientist. Elisa, alongside her neighbor/best friend Giles, decide to free the creature, with the unexpected help of the doctor and Zelda.
"The Shape of Water" is quite possibly one of the most interesting films that Guillermo Del Toro has ever directed. It marries his never ending love for the gothic with an ode to movie classics, the power of a love story, all the while touching themes like racial and sexual discrimination. It's a film that hits a perfect balance across the board in a nuanced way, allowing for the central romance to bloom, but also allowing for the relationships between all the central characters to be flushed out, never painting them in one unique way. It's a film that is poetic, while not shying away from the ugliness of reality, the pain of loss and ultimately how violence permeates across life. It's also a gorgeously constructed film, from the beautiful production design from Paul D. Austerberry, to the cinematography from Dan Laustsen and the score of the always wonderful Alexandre Desplat. The cast is uniformly excellent, with Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins in particular, creating memorable characters, filled with a life and a spark that further elevates the story. A beautiful film worth watching.