Guillermo del Toro returns with another fantastical drama, The Shape of Water. As a fan of his work, I was interested in what this film would bring to the table. It did not disappoint. The film is about a mute woman named Elisa Esposito who discovers an amphibious creature within the Occam Aerospace Research Center she works at as a cleaning lady. As their bond grows, Elisa realizes that his life is in danger and it’s up to her to save him.
This film wasn’t a typical romance story. Many of the characters were imperfect and unconventional which only added to the beauty of the film. As a mute woman, Elisa has trouble connecting to the world around her. She only has her neighbor, Giles, and coworker, Zelda Fuller, to spend her days with. Even Giles and Zelda come with their peculiarities that aren’t accepted in the social norm of the early 1960s of Baltimore which is something that Elisa can easily sympathize with. So it’s natural for her to come to care for “the Asset” of the Occam Aerospace Research Center.
Sally Hawkins stars as Elisa. Her acting solely relies on her ability to be expressive with her face rather than her words and she says volumes. Elisa doesn’t let her disability silence her. She takes any chance that she can get to speak up for herself and others. Whether other people can understand her or not isn’t her concern. Hawkins acting shines in this film as she uses a single facial expression to show exactly how Elisa feels within a scene.
Doug Jones returns again as one of del Toro’s creatures. In this film, the creature is nicknamed “the Asset”. Jones portrays an amphibious creature that hails from the rivers of South America. He is revered as a god there, but when he is taken to Occam Aerospace Research Center he is only viewed as an experiment by the scientists there. As usual, Jones becomes the creature he plays. He reminded me of The Creature of the Black Lagoon which the film was based on. He especially becomes a likable character due to his relationship with Elisa. Since neither of them is able to speak, they are able to bond through sign language. Elisa even shows him human pleasure such as music and hard boiled eggs.
It should come as no surprise that the production design of the film was extremely detailed and well thought out. Each set was unique and does its part to tell the audience who the characters are based on where they live. There was also a constant blue and green lighting within the film that reflected the underwater theme. It is also very reminiscent of the dark themes that surround the characters. As time goes on, the technology improves to make mystical creatures seem real. The Asset’s costume and makeup is no exception. Even though we live in an age where visual effects are the standard for fantasy films, I appreciate that this film went the extra mile to be as practical as possible with their special effects.
The Shape of Water will be enjoyed by anyone who has admired del Toro’s work. This story is truly a love letter to outcasts and their struggle to please the unchanging world around them. So much so that the monster isn’t the monster, the people are.
|The Shape of Water|
|Director:||Guillermo Del Toro|
|Genre:||Fantasy, Drama, Romance|
|Release Date:||December 8th, 2017|