“If we do nothing, neither are we.”
The Shape of Water tells the story of a mute woman, Elisa, who begins to form a relationship with an amphibian man, after having access to a government room where harmful experiments are performed to this creature. Along with her friends, Zelda and Giles, Elisa plans to remove this amphibian man from his captivity, eventually falling in love with him in the process.
Whoever thought that at the end of 2017 we would be watching a movie about a woman falling in love with an amphibian? And whoever thought a film with such content would be enjoyable? The Shape of Water takes us out of our comfort zone, and shows us a unique story of love, loss, and emptiness. The characters in this film are simply remarkable. Sally Hawkins, who plays the main character Elisa, is superb in her depiction of this unfulfilled mute woman. Hawkins has portrayed many remarkable characters, no matter how small, but her portrayal of Elisa is a breathtaking performance that will rip you out of this reality and transport you to a mystical world. The character of Elisa is simplistic, but also a complicated one, too. Elisa, who functions to her best ability in this world, never becomes angry at the for her lack of not being able to speak. Rather, she is able to see the sadness of the amphibian man without saying a word. Hawkins first wowed me during a part with her friend Giles (Richard Jenkins) when Elisa tells him the importance of helping the amphibian man escape his confinement. When Hawkins signs to him, there’s no lapse or even a hint of confusion as to what sign she should be using. Hawkins looked as though she has been using sign language her whole life. Thus, playing her character with confidence and poise. But it is the supporting actors, Michael Shannon, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spenser, that when they come together, give this film the boost that makes this film great. Their performances, though completely different than one another, play the supporting characters to Elisa in her quest. Spencer whose character is mildly like so many of her other characters, bring a burst of real life and dialogue that is fluid and natural. Shannon, who is the villain of the film, and opposite to Elisa’s loving nature is a tour de force. Once again Shannon brings that strong powerful man into the mix that continues to shake up any film that he stars in.
Now, as for Guillermo del Toro, I haven’t been the biggest fan of his in a while. In my opinion, Pan’s Labyrinth still remains his greatest work to date. But The Shape of Water gives it a run for its money. Del Toro is constantly looking for that original piece to work with as he continues to introduce us to the comforting personality and similarities of monsters. With his new film, Del Toro has come back to his original roots of dramatic storytelling.
Though not without its share of flaws, The Shape of Water is a must see movie that reflects a current political climate to love who you love, and the dealings of not being fulfilled throughout your life.
The Shape of Water
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer