Now his love for monsters has evolved into the literal sense with The Shape of Water, an immaculate Beauty and the Beast-esque fairytale that finally gives the monsters some sex appeal. What a wild time to be alive. We follow the story of Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a lonely mute janitor working in a top-secret research centre in 1960s America. She, along with co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer), uncovers a secret hidden in one of the labs. And this secret comes in the form of a humanoid fish man (Doug Jones), who sparks a connection with Elisa in a way nobody else could possibly understand.
You’ll laugh, love, scream and squirm your way through this bedazzling, genre-defying motion picture. A lot of what transpires really shouldn’t work. None of the things del Toro and co-writer Vanessa Taylor would be nearly as effective in the hands of anybody less competent. A black and white sequence I’d dare not spoil would sound of place when described verbally, but when on screen it works wonders, defying all odds and expectations to bring to the world something truly new and wonderful.
Also fantastic are the supporting cast, who don’t deserve to go without recognition. Richard Jenkins is a standout as Elisa’s kindhearted artist neighbour, also struggling to deal with society’s rejection. These characters are a series of lonely souls, each representing a different thematic interest of the narrative, and every actor is without flaw. Michael Shannon takes on a villainous role, and he’s just as Michael Shannon-y as ever, but just as brilliant too. Michael Stuhlbarg is in this also, no doubt having an excellent 2017 after appearing in three strong Oscar contenders.
Still, I loved this movie. For me, it’s one of del Toro’s best, and the one that’s finally starting to gain him some much-deserved awards season recognition. This is a wonderful, poetic and visually stunning tale of love and beauty, one that audiences all over the world are definitely going to latch onto, and one they’re unlikely to soon forget. If you’re after a little bittersweet joy in your life, make sure you see this movie. The world will be a better place.
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