From Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, comes another fantastic tale – A tale of love and compassion, a tale full of warmth, a tale that has a soul, a tale that is bound to win the hearts of many. This tale is simple but it works like a charm, it transports you to another world. Now, none of this would have worked without the magical touch of Guillermo Del Toro. He is one of the best storytellers we have today and has proved it time and time again. He can make simple stories work like magic. There is something in his direction and writing that sets him apart from others. That is the reason Pan’s Labyrinth is my favorite foreign film of all time. I have seen that film dozens of times and I still find something new every time I watch it. Guillermo knows how to make likable characters. The faun and the pale man were two of the best and most original characters I have ever seen in movies. But now I am deviating from the topic. So let’s go back to the review.
The Shape of Water Review –
The Shape of Water is the story of Elisa, a mute lady who works as a Janitor in a secret government laboratory in 1962, Baltimore. Her life changes when a creature is brought to the lab. They both develope a bond that will change the course of their lives.
The Shape of water starts in the same way as Pan’s Labyrinth. The camera moves underwater and a person starts narrating the story of Elisa. This opening scene was enough to make me fall in love with the film. The camera moves through a narrow opening and stops in a big room where we see Elisa floating – unconscious. I think this scene literally shows you the Shape of Water. From the first scene itself, the cinematography hooks you in. The way the camera moves and the greenish color grading results in some beautiful shots. The work done by Cinematographer is top notch and I have come to expect that from Guillermo’s movies. As the story progresses, you get to know the characters. There are some quirky moments in the film that will make you smile. There are some moments that I did not expect to be in this film. I thought this movie was suitable for kids but it isn’t. Anyway, coming back to the topic, the first encounter between Elisa and the creature is pretty well done. It makes you feel something. And that creature looks like Abe Sapien from Hellboy.
The strongest part of The Shape of Water is the powerful performances from everyone, especially the lead actress Sally Hawkins. She gave it her everything. I have seen her in others films (she was good) and she completely nails the character of Elisa. As her character is mute, the whole film relied on her body language and physical performance. I can’t imagine anyone else doing this role. It was made for her just like Wonder Woman was made for Gal Gadot. Also, another main character is an amphibian who can’t speak so it relied on Doug Jones’ physical performance too, and just like Sally Hawkins, he played his role wonderfully. But he has gotten used to playing animals and fantasy creatures, so it was not that hard for him. Sally was the underdog here. Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer are good too.
But it’s not just the acting that makes The Shape of Water an amazing experience. The direction by Del Toro is outstanding. He knows how to get the best out of his actors. There is not a single moment in the film that didn’t fit like a cog. The screenplay is also good. The cinematography, as I have already mentioned, is wonderful. I love those subtle camera moments and the color grading. It was eye-pleasing. Then there’s the background music which perfectly fits the mood of the story. It is nothing groundbreaking but contributes more depth to every scene. Without it, the film would have been much less effective.
There are some shortcomings in the film but they may be ignored as the good things more than make-up for it. The shortcomings are nothing more than nitpicks, so I would not go into the details.
The Shape of Water is one of the best movies of 2017. It is also my second favorite Del Toro film after Pan’s Labyrinth. It is good to see that he still has that magic with him. It has been nominated for 13 Academy Awards and will win many of them. It deserves some of those much-coveted trophies. I hope it wins and we keep getting more of Guillermo.
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