The Shape of Water is a dark romantic fantasy directed by Guillermo del Toro and co-written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. The film is set in 1962 Baltimore. The movie has so many great messages that extend far beyond the obvious fantasy most of us will expect to see. It’s strong, profound and worthy of all the upcoming nominations that have already started pouring in. There’s no rose-colored glasses nor any hidden secrets to be discovered. There’s just pure love and of course, good vs evil and I loved it! WARNING: there’s a fair amount of sex or sexual suggestion making it somewhat risque for the under aged.
— SPOILERS BELOW —
The plot follows a mute female custodian named Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) who is employed at a highly-secured, secret government laboratory. The facility receives a creature in a tank, which has been captured from a South American river by Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). Curious, Elisa discovers that the creature is a humanoid amphibian. She begins visiting the creature in secret and the two form a close bond and later, fall in love. Her plan is to eventually free the creature from the facility where he is being abused.
Elisa was rendered mute by a neck injury she had sustained as an infant, and communicates using sign language. Her two closest friends are her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), who is an advertising artist and closeted gay man, and Zelda (Octavia Spencer), an African-American co-worker who also serves as her interpreter at work.
Elisa and the creature may be in love, but the United States have other plans for the Amphibian, as do the Soviets, aided by an agent/doctor also working in the facility by the name of Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg). With plans already in place, the US wants to exploit the creature for possible advantages in the space race; the Soviets want to steal it, study it then dissect it; Colonel Strickland wants to abuse it and Elisa wants to love it and set it free. None of this is going to go the way anyone thinks. “The best laid plans of Mice and Men often go awry”. The Shape of Water takes on the most bazaar direction in a non-comedy I’ve ever seen. No one will be laughing as everyone ends up where they should be. I see why the nominations are pouring in.
The American Film Institute selected The Shape of Water as one of the top 10 films of the year. It won for Best Director and Best Original Score at the 75th Golden Globe Awards, while also receiving Oscar nominations for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress – Drama (Hawkins), Best Supporting Actress (Spencer), Best Supporting Actor (Jenkins), and Best Screenplay. At the 71st British Academy Film Awards, the film received 12 nominations, including Best Film. It’s a worth while film with a worth while story and a worth while message. Check it out!