If I told you about The Shape of Water without spoilers, what would I say, I wonder? At first I had resigned myself to doing only a spoiler filled review, but upon further reflection I realized that not everyone I know has seen it yet, and to give it all away would be doing the film or potential fans a disservice. So, if you haven’t seen it yet, I’ll boil it down to three reasons.
Reason number one: Guillermo Del Toro
It’s written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Del Toro is an amazingly creative and dedicated writer and director who has made some of the most visually engaging films I’ve ever watched (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim, Crimson Peak).His movies are always fantastic to see (especially in the theater) because he is methodical and deliberate about what you see on screen.
As much as I loved seeing The Shape of Water in the theater, I can’t wait to own it so I can repeatedly pause while viewing it to take in all the tiny details he uses. Being set in the 1960’s the film has all kinds of things to see in the background and on characters’ clothing, and it’s remarkable how it all perfectly transports the viewer. Del Toro’s stories are also well written, and that brings me to reason number two.
Reason number two: The Story.
The Shape of Water is a brilliant and imaginative mix of simple and elegant. Without giving any plot points away that aren’t already apparent in the trailer (see below), I can say that the story, despite being well laid out is never predictable.
The story is about a mute character, Eliza who works in a somewhat creepy government facility, which just happens to acquire an amphibious two legged creature. As the trailer shows, Eliza and the creature form a bond, one that transcends language barriers and that bond sets things in motion when it’s no longer safe for the creature to remain where he is.
Reason number three: The Characters and Cast.
Finally, and this may be borderline spoilery, in the broadest terms, what you see on the surface of things is not the whole of something, or someone. The characters of this movie are wonderfully complex. It takes no time at all to fall in love with the film’s protagonist Eliza, played by Sally Hawkins. It’s hard to believe walking out of the theater that she’s not mute like Eliza, and part of that is a credit to the supporting cast. Richard Jenkins, who plays Giles, Eliza’s friend and neighbor is incredibly endearing and relateable. Octavia Spencer as Eliza’s co-worker Zelda is like an instant bff. You know that any job you had, if she was your co-worker then work would seem a bit less like work, even if it was in a super secret and kinda creepy government facility. And Michael Shannon plays one of the most revolting antagonists I’ve seen in a while. Finally, Doug Jones does a spectacular job at playing a fish man who you fall in love with as much as you fall in love with Eliza.
So, if you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer. The Shape of Water was a magical movie experience and if you like sci-fi, good story telling, and attention to detail, then you should see it, especially while it’s still in theaters.