The Shape of Water, review

A lonely woman who is employed as a cleaner at a highly secure government laboratory has her life changed after bonding with a creature. 

Guillermo del Toro has created a striking film in which he has combined the genres of fantasy, fairytale and love story all in one. Using modern society as an inspiration and being set during a cold war era, two living things bond in the most unlikely of places.

Sally Hawkins plays Eliza, who works as a cleaner at a laboratory based in Baltimore. She lives on her own above a cinema and counts her chatty neighbour Giles (an incredibly likeable Richard Jenkins) and her protective co-worker Zelda (the always wonderful Octavia Spencer) as her friends. During a routine shift a creature, referred to by Strickland (Michael Shannon) as the asset, is wheeled through in a metal tank. Eliza’s first encounter with the amphibious being is brief but immediately intriguing.

From here, the pair bond over being outcasts. They are both mute and share a love for each other’s company, Eliza is able to communicate with the creature on a level like no other human can. Her child like demeanour and love of imitating old movies gives her the perfect amount of innocence and fascination to be at complete ease with it. Hawkins has formed a character around being mute and somehow made her charming, sweet, adorable and likeable without the use of a single word. Her performance pushes the boundaries of what you’d expect from an actress of such high calibre. Shannon’s turn as the deliciously evil, mildly threatening family man gives you a villain to hate and admire. His terrifying grin and idiosyncratic love of a type of particular sweet gives him an edge of unsure malice. Despite it’s subject matter, the movie still has several moments of comedy relief including a scene involving a number of pies and another with Zelda proclaiming “Some of the best minds in the country and they still pee all over the floor in here”. The humour adds a level of realism in what is a fantasy film.

A beautiful fantasy film with a breathtaking creature and stellar performances from Sally Hawkins and Michael Shannon makes this film a contender during awards season.

4 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

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