Search

Review: The Shape of Water exquisite, unique and worth taking the plunge

PUBLISHED: 17:22 16 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:34 16 February 2018

Sally Hawkins as Elisa with Doug Jones as the creature in The Shape Of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Hayes

Sally Hawkins as Elisa with Doug Jones as the creature in The Shape Of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Hayes

Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Hayes

Guillermo Del Toro returns to low-budget fantasy an erotically-charged Cold War love story between a mute cleaning lady, played by Sally Hawkins, and a carnivorous merman that has scooped 13 Oscar nominations.

Sally Hawkins as Elisa and Octavia Spencer as Zelda in The Shape of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry HayesSally Hawkins as Elisa and Octavia Spencer as Zelda in The Shape of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Hayes

The Shape of Water (15)

****

The latest Guillermo Del Toro Del Toro film takes us to a very familiar location: the secret underground government research facility, where scientists and the military battle over what to with the secret thing that they’ve found/discovered.

Nothing novel about that, except in this film the focus is on the cleaning staff.

Michael Shannon, Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry HayesMichael Shannon, Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Hayes

In the early 1960s, mute cleaner Elisa (Sally Hawkins) and sharp-tongued pal Zelda (Octavia Spencer) clock in daily at a Baltimore facility to sweep up for their betters.

Then one day, after moping up some blood and two severed fingers they come face to face with what is being kept hidden: an amphibious fish man played by Doug Jones, not entirely dissimilar to the amphibious fish-man Abe Sapien he played in Del Toro’s Hellboy films.

Elisa falls in love with him. And hatches a hare-brained plan to smuggle her web-footed paramour out of the facility so he can be returned to the wild.

After a quarter of a century as an original film visionary, Guillermo Del Toro has actually made something original and visionary: a cold war, civil rights era, interspecies romance/fairy tale.

Sally Hawkins as Elisa and Octavia Spencer as Zelda in The Shape of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry HayesSally Hawkins as Elisa and Octavia Spencer as Zelda in The Shape of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Hayes

Working on a smaller scale after a series of big-budget disappointments, Del Toro has come up with something that is quite exquisite. The look, full of intricate visual wonders, is reminiscent of the early films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, a slightly more sombre Amélie.

I had the great good fortune to see this when it was still just a good film, not a multi-nominated Oscar contender. It has 13 nominations but it isn’t an obvious winner in any of them so I’d say there was an outside chance of it breaking the record held by The Turning Point and The Colour Purple as the most nominated film not to win anything on the night.

The Shape of Water and enduring appeal of women falling for movie monsters

Hollywood’s obsession with making everything an anti-Trump statement is getting a wee bit silly. Latching on to the element of the film - a multi-strand plea for racial and sexual tolerance; Jenkins’ character is a closet homosexual, the bad guy is bigotted military man Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) — that would’ve been more effective if it hadn’t made so overt. They have chosen to view this charming fantasy through dull, issue movie goggles.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists