Released: 18th January 2018 (Australia)
Seen: 10th February 2018
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor
Produced by: Bull Productions, Double Dare You (DDY) & Fox Searchlight Pictures
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon & Octavia Spencer
If ever there was a shocker this year, it was when a movie like The Shape Of Water was nominated for almost every Oscar that a film could be nominated for. I’m pretty confident that they actually invented new categories to nominate this one in and now that I’ve finally seen it let me state for the record that this one is going to walk away with every single award, and probably a few more. They may just open the show with the host delivering a wheelbarrow of Oscars right to the producers to save them all some time.
The Shape Of Water tells the heartbreaking tale of Elisa Esposito (Played by Sally Hawkins) who is a mute cleaner working in a laboratory with her best friend Zelda Fuller (Played by Octavia Spencer). One day as they are doing their job they happen upon a new addition to the lab, an amphibian man (Played by Doug Jones, in a performance that should’ve gotten him an Oscar nomination damnit) who seems to have an instant connection with the must Elisa. Slowly, through a series of stolen lunches and looks the two of them fall in love and when it becomes apparent that Richard Strickland (Played by Michael Shannon) is going to try and do away with the amphibian man, Elisa enlists the help of Zelda and her neighbor Giles (Played by Richard Jenkins) to try and get the amphibian man out of the lab so that they can be together.
From the first few seconds of the film, it becomes apparent that this is one of the gorgeous pieces of cinema to be put out in recent years. I’ve never seen a film that plays with colour and lighting so elegantly, the specific palette chosen is flawless because it paints the world with the colours of the ocean. Brilliant greens and teals litter the frame so when we finally see the creature, he feels at home in this world. It would’ve been so easy for him to seem out of place but everything is so carefully selected that he feels like a part of this world.
This movie is creating a new modern-day fairy tale, a story that in any other hands would not work but in the hands of Guillermo del Toro it’s a masterpiece of heart-pounding emotion. You actually want these two to get together, you feel joy when Elisa and the Amphibian Man finally get to touch or share an intimate moment. There have been jokes about this film, specifically revolving around the idea of a woman having sex with a fish monster and honestly? It’s possibly some of the most insanely romantic scenes in recent history. While they never explicitly show anything (Heck, we had to rely on some random dildo maker to provide us with an idea of what the Amphibian man is packing) the build-up to that moment is so meticulous that it’s enough to make your jaw hit the floor and be overwhelmed with the dreaded ‘Feels’.
The characters are so perfectly defined, they bounce off each other with a pureness that makes you invested in all of them. Michael Shannon as the villain of the piece is one of the most interesting and terrifying elements in this movie, and let’s not forget this movie stars The Creature From The Black Lagoon! Elisa is just an incredible creation by Sally Hawkins. the kind of role that can shoot an actor into the stratosphere with how perfectly she’s portrayed and how every little thing about her just makes you love her more and more. Zelda is just pure Octavia Spencer at her best, she is a delight to watch and since she spends so much of the film basically being Elisa’s voice she has to display so much warmth and she does it effortlessly. There is not a single character or performer in this film who is anything less than perfect, I delighted in every single one.
There really isn’t that much to say in the end. The Shape Of Water is truly what it means to create a perfect film. It’s a story that would work in no other medium. No other director could make this material seem plausible, let alone phenomenal. Every actor could not have been better cast, there isn’t a frame of the film that could be removed or added that would make it better. This is what it means to be a great film, this is the kind of art we so rarely get to see but when we do it’s truly magical and will never be forgotten.