An other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. Guillermo del Toro creates a fantastic return to fantasy genre with The Shape of Water, an unconventional romance that is beautifully shot and written by a fantastic lead performance from Sally Hawkins. Del Toro's fans must be pleased with his most recent outing. Sally Hawkins' portrayal of Eliza is one of the film's strongest points. She is an easy character to join and sympathize with as Hawkins draws you in, helped by del Toro's use of close-up shots to highlight the silent operation.
Doug Jones can be striking here, playing yet another one of del Toro's otherworldly creatures from the film's other quiet performance. At least, quiet in that he doesn't speak English, with Jones using a number of vocal sounds to show what he is feeling. Jones' dependence on his own body language also helps to communicate the character's feelings and thoughts, putting in lots of nuance in just the simplest of moves. Additionally, it helps that the look of the monster is amazing; the make-up done on Jones looks incredible, from the way he moves, breathes and snarls. Not many minutes in the movie make you think it is anything but Jones from the movie's costume. The rest of the cast round out the film well, with Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins and Michael Stuhlbarg giving good performances, particularly Jenkins and Stuhlbarg.
Michael Shannon, nevertheless, almost steals the show as the government antagonist, Strickland. He's not only evil, but has a cold and dispassionate character that makes him unlikeable enough. Shannon still provides some nuance to demonstrate that he's got his own motives than just enjoying being poor and del Toro spends some time with Strickland in the home with his family, showing a somewhat different character that shows the multiple layers to Strickland. The cinematography looks magnificent throughout the film. The colors are a little dim, but lots of the shots look great, especially when del Toro plays around with the lighting. It's surely one of del Toro's best looking films so far thanks the artwork. Additionally, it has a rather nice score that's influenced by old Hollywood musicals and romances.
The one gripe I do have about Shape of Water is that it's a little slow in certain scenes, but the movie moves along at a fantastic rate for the most part differently. Regardless of the monster/romance assumption, a lot of The Shape of Water is all about all of the characters, even Strickland, being stuck in the past and searching for new ways forward in their lifetimes. It is a touching film with an interesting story and good cast, with Hawkins standing outside the most thanks for her silent performance. Del Toro leads a solid fantasy that mixes old Hollywood elements with the fantasy genre in his most recent film that audiences should enjoy.
Wallpaper from the movie: