The Shape of Water

12/21/2017 08:04

Film: The Shape of Water

Year: 2017

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Writer: Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor

Starring: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon



This film begins with showing us an apartment that is filled with water. It is accompanied by a voice-over narration done by Richard Jenkins. It then comes to a woman who is asleep in it; she is played by Sally Hawkins. The apartment then returns to normal, having Hawkins on the couch as her alarm clock goes off. We then see her going about her daily routine. She draws a bath, hard boils eggs, pleasures herself when she gets into the bath and then shines her shoes. She makes lunch and gives half of it to Jenkins, who is her neighbor. He is a closet homosexual artist, who as he states, is starving. It should be pointed out that she is a mute and has to use sign language. Their apartment is above a movie theater as well.

Hawkins heads off to work. She takes a bus and she works at an aerospace laboratory. She is late frequently and her friend as well as co-worker holds her spot in line to ensure that she punches in on time. This friend is played by Octavia Spencer. As they go about their day, a new asset is brought in. They are not allowed in the room with it. The man who is overseeing it is played by Michael Shannon. He is a jerk who is quite arrogant. Also working on this is a doctor who is played by Michael Stuhlbarg, and an assistant to Shannon who is played by David Hewlett.

The following day Shannon comes out of the sealed room. He is missing two of his fingers as whatever they have in there has bit them off. Hawkins and Spencer are told to clean up the room. Hawkins finds his fingers and puts them in her sandwich bag. She turns them over to Stuhlbarg.

These two women are then tasked with cleaning this room every day. Hawkins sees what the it is and it is like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He is played by one of the masters of creature/body movement, Doug Jones. He is tortured by Shannon and his cattle prod. Hawkins brings him hard boiled eggs and befriends him. She teaches him sign language and lets him hear music.

She becomes concerned when a general, played by Nick Searcy, comes in and wants to know what is to be done. Shannon believes they have learned everything they can from it so now they need to kill it to do an autopsy. He believes it has the key to space travel within his body. Stuhlbarg is against this thinking there is more to learn from it. Hawkins has fallen in love with him and wants him free.

Hawkins goes to Jenkins with her plan and he tells her that she can’t do this. He is struggling with a painting to sell to Jello and depressed with having no place in society due to his sexual orientation. On the other side, Stuhlbarg is actually a Russian working with the Soviets secretly. They want the killing of the asset delayed or it killed and taken away from the US before it can be studied.

Can Hawkins get Jones out of the lab before it is too late? If she can, can she get it away from everyone before it is too late? Shannon will stop at nothing to maintain his place he has built.

I had been excited to see this film from the first trailer I had seen. Director/co-writer of this film is Guillermo del Toro, so I knew two things coming in. Visually this film was going to be amazing and it was probably going to have a mythical like storytelling. It definitely was both of these. Jones’ character is very similar to the Creature. I even like his back-story that he was found in the Amazon where he was worshipped as a god. As the film goes on, we see why that is the case. You feel back for Jones as Shannon doesn’t look at it with any sort of humanity. It is an interesting dynamic that the Soviets want it dead as well. The film does have a couple of odd interactions that are too surreal to be real. I do feel these take you out of the story, but do have some amazing visual aesthetics. I do personally feel that it had a little too much romance. It does make a lot of sense in the end though. I wasn’t a huge fan of the twist, but it doesn’t hurt the movie. I do like how everything gets tied up in the end. There was also a great allegory that Shannon uses with Spencer and her middle name being Delilah

The acting in the film was great. Hawkins did very well as playing a mute. It really establishes that her life is the same every day and boring. Jones changes that when he comes into her life and gives her a reason to live. With that said, Jones is amazing at playing characters like this. He moves and acts so real. Shannon is great as this jerk that has to be in control. I love his relentless nature. Jenkins and Spencer were both very solid in their supporting role. Stuhlbarg was very interesting aspect of the film as well.

The effects for this film were a blend of CGI and practical. The scenes that were CGI were some of the best I had ever seen so I had no problems there. Examples here are when Jones is swimming in some water or when the bathroom is flooded. For the latter I know it couldn’t possible happening, but Toro gets me questioning myself how it plays out. There is a scene that made me cringe with Shannon and his dying fingers. Those both looked to be practical and quite real. The editing of the film was pretty good. I did have an issue in the middle. The film runs slightly over two hours. I do feel that it stalled a bit and I found myself slightly bored. It does build the tension it needs for the climax, which was good. The score was solid. I felt it help set the tone for what the scene needed to be. I could feel it bring my anxiety up as the tension of a scene built which is what I look for.

Now with that said, this is a beautiful love story of a woman and a creature that hasn’t been seen before. Del Toro does a solid job at presenting this tale in a way that is surreal while also being grounded in realism. Visually the film is great looking. I thought the acting was great. The effects are a good blend of CGI and practical that works. The editing has some pacing issues, but overall is still okay. The score is good. The film delves into a lot of issues and has some allegorical points that are still relevant even today. I do feel that this film deserves a viewing and I would recommend it. I do feel that this film will benefit for me with another viewing or two for sure.


My Rating: 8 out of 10