The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water
2017. Directed by Guillermo del Toro.
By Brian Wallinger.
To me there is no modern day director quite like Guillermo Del Toro. A director who makes dreams; as well as nightmares, come true and yet equally exist with such palpable beauty and unmatched wonder. Though he often doesn't get the credit he deserves, his most recent film The Shape Of Water will hopefully see him formally recognized by both the Academy and mainstream audiences.
The film is a top notch throwback with classic nostalgia in the mix that will have film lovers clamoring for more. The Shape Of Water is a film that is about more then just what we see and know. It is an experience that celebrates all the elements that make us human: Physical presence, communication, our flaws, and personal undertakings as people. It is about sadness and isolation and how our fears of stepping outside social confines often alienate us. The Shape Of Water is ultimately is about the power of being different.
The film takes place in 1962. The "Cold War" is alive and well and the civil rights moment is beginning to thrive. A mute woman (played by Sally Hawkins in a remarkable performance) working as a cleaning lady for a top secret American Government Facility begins a relationship with a captive sea creature. Alongside her is her friend, played by Octavia Spencer as a highly free spirited independent woman who isn't afraid to tell it how it is. Her only other friend is her neighbor played by Richard Jenkins in another very rich and vibrant role as a struggling artist.
Michael Shannon also supports as a shady government agent who is in charge of the experimentation on the creature. A KGB subplot threatens everything and leads to a forbidden, yet beautiful romance among other dangers that soon follow.
The cinematography is some of the best of the year, using a dark palate of blacks and greens that are contrasted against well lit sequences that are sprinkled throughout. The creature effects are also outstanding. The score by Alexandre Desplat is also award worthy providing a necessary layer to the film.
Under Del Toro's visionary and heartfelt direction is a film created to help us understand our purpose and the outstanding ensemble drives this wonderful notion home. The Shape Of Water is a much needed breathe of fresh air for the ages. A remarkable homage to classic material and a nice tribute to the past with a stellar development and progression.