There are many, many superlatives to describe, in my opinion, just how great this film is. One of the beautiful things about cinema, is its ability to engage you on a variety of levels, and The Shape Of Water certainly engages me on a wide range of those levels. It is very easy to see why it is being highly regarded by critics and why audience members enjoyed this visionary picture. This film is very good at taking you to another place whilst watching, and I almost felt like it was more of an experience.
The story is set in the 1960s in Baltimore, United States, and tells the tale of Eliza (Sally Hawkins) a mute cleaner at a secret research facility, where she becomes friendly with an amphibian creature (Doug Jones), who is being experimented on by the ruthless Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) to help the USA’s efforts in the Cold War against the Soviets.
What I enjoyed the most about this film, is its ability to layer so many different characterizations, with a series of chilling narratives that combined in harmony to produce a truly stunning film. Guillermo del Toro has put together a wonderful film, with the story and screenplay he wrote being a solid foundation on which all the cast and crew involve could take to new heights under his direction.
Unable to perceive the shape of you, I find you all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with your love, it humbles my heart, for you are everywhere.
Sally Hawkins is inspiring. To convey such emotion and story through facial expression and sign language alone is a masterclass in acting. Michael Shannon’s threatening and cynical character is a perfect mirror for Hawkins’ compassionate and understanding Eliza, which help you see true development throughout. Supporting roles from Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins and Michael Stuhlbarg are all wonderful. Last but certainly not least is Doug Jones, who portrays the amphibian man, and is sublime. He is layered underneath a practical prosthetic, and the way he is able to bring a creature to the forefront to match Hawkins is beautiful.
The sets are incredible, taking you right back to how you imagined the 60s to be in a quieter, suburban town area. The major themes of love, trust and understanding really drive the film, and they’re surely standout reasons for why it has caught so much attention, because they are all relatable to us on some level. But it also weaves in topical issues from the period, which is crucial to rounding off the tone the film creates, sharpening the edges of an already dramatic feature. The use of colour and lighting at certain times adds a sensation to scenes, drawing you in even further than you already were.
The Shape of Water, for me, is a symphony of reality and fantasy. It combines the two in such a way that makes sense, you almost wish it was a true story. The Pan’s Labyrinth feel, combined with a Bioshock, reminiscent type setting, is a wonderful atmosphere that I feel everyone can enjoy, and may just bridge the divides in some people’s taste in films, hopefully inspiring them to explore different feats and branches of cinema.
The Shape of Water is in cinemas now and will be showing at Pontio from Friday 2nd till Thursday 8th March.