The Shape of Water is both one of the strangest movies I’ve ever seen and one of the most beautiful. I have no idea how it ever got a greenlight, but I’m so thankful that it did. It’s one of those movies that I can’t get out of my head after seeing it. I start day dreaming about it and asking questions that I know I won’t get answers for. It’s like letting a puzzle marinate in the back of your mind for a few days, and you keep coming up with new thoughts about it.
Guillermo Del Toro crafted this beautiful tale of a mute woman falling in love with a sea monster, and he did it so well that I believed in this relationship between the two. He says it’s one of his most personal films, and one that he is most proud of, and I can see why. The script is incredible, the set pieces are maticulously detailed, and the story has so much heart. Deep within the narrative, there is a very simple story of loneliness and the need for belonging. Each main character is dealing with the idea of loneliness in their own way. Some better than others.
Eliza, the mute hero of our story, is played to perfection by Sally Hawkins. She did an incredible job emoting without using her voice. The passion she has when she’s begging for help to save the sea monster from the secret government facility is incredibly moving. There are questions that arise about her from the very beginning and it lends just enough myster to who she is without distracting from the main thread of the film.
One of the things I love most about Del Toro’s movies is his attepts to use as little CGI as he can, while crafting beautiful monsters. The use of makeup in this movie is fantastic and truly makes the movie more believable. When Eliza reaches out to touch this monster, she’s not touch a guy in a lime green CGI suit. She’s touching a physical thing. That connection shows and it matters. I never want this man to stop proving that practical effects, though often challenging and expensive, are always worth it. He’s one of the few filmmakers left that works in fantasy and insists that CGI should be used to enhance more than create.
Michael Shannon’s portrayal of the villain was so spot on perfect that I was uneasy even watching him. He’s so emotionless, but so believable that I was afraid of him. Given that this movie takes place in 1962, there is also some social commentary going on that makes you hate him even more. Between the civil rights issues that are evident in at least one scene, you also get a glimpse at male superiority complex over women. It’s heart breaking given the recent news and explosion of folks in the #MeToo movement, and it’s horrifying. It’s brilliant that Del Toro makes you more afraid of the human than the monster. He’s always been great at that.
I highly recommend seeing this one. I’m glad I did. Stephanie and I both have had a hard time getting it out of our heads and continue to come to these revelations over small details. Get out and see it in a theatre if you can, but at the very least it deserves a rental as soon as it comes to a RedBox or Amazon Prime. Careful watching with kids. Even if you aren’t a “prude,” it’s worth noting that there is bit of full frontal nudity and other sexual content. It’s done with class, but I know I would probably skip watching with parents.