If you like Pan’s Labyrinth and Beauty and the Beast then you will probably like this.
- Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) and Vanessa Taylor (Divergent)
- Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy)
- Starring Sally Hawkins (Maudie, Paddington 2), Michael Shannon (Batman v Superman, Iceman) Octavia Spencer (The Help, Hidden Figures) and Richard Jenkins (Spotlight, Step Brothers)
- Budget of $20m
My initial thoughts 💭
What an odd yet brilliant film. Visionary director, Guillermo del Toro, brings us another beautiful piece of cinema with his latest film “The Shape of Water”. Another great story from the mind of Del Toro….I dread to think what nightmares he has.
The ‘ccc’ review
Director Guillermo del Toro pitched this film to Sally Hawkins when drunk and said this is even a difficult film to pitch when sober! Here goes…..
Mute Elisa (Hawkins) lives a relatively modest life. Has the same routine every day: enjoys her breakfast (maybe a bit too much), visits her elderly neighbour (Jenkins) and then gets the night bus to the secret laboratory where she is a cleaner alongside her friend Zelda (Spencer). When a creature from the Amazon is brought in for experiments, Elisa forms a bond whilst discovering that Agent Strickland (Shannon) is more intent on destroying it rather than appreciating it’s gift.
This film draws on themes from “The Beauty and the Beast” by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, because you are different does that make you a monster or less significant….of course it doesn’t, and Del Toro’s storytelling hits this point. It is a story of doing the right thing, being accepted and wanting to be loved. A true fairytale.
All the characters just want to be appreciated in their own ways. The fact that the main couple are mute, and most of the dialogue comes from a black woman and a closeted gay man during the 1960s setting where they would have experienced oppression, further highlights the struggle to be accepted for all you are.
Del Toro does a great job of directing the film, it feels like a slow graceful Waltz and flows elegantly through each scene. The look of the film is pure cinematic art and the accompanying music plays homage to Hollywood’s Golden era and fits perfectly with the feel of the film (another one added to the playlist). We really do tip our hats to the whole team behind this film. One scene will definitely have you smiling and happy….that is what cinema is about. It also goes back to the roots of Hollywood cinema with 95% of the film in a studio.
Yes, it is a story about someone falling in love with a sea creature and this probably won’t be the best film you will see this year. But it is definitely refreshing to watch something different, made even more magical by the performances of the cast.
The fact that Sally Hawkins’ character is mute, but you feel you understand every expression is absolutely amazing. Director Guillermo del Toro said about Sally Hawkins, “Not only was she the first choice, she was the only choice. I wrote the movie for Sally. Octavia Spencer continues to set Hollywood alight with another great supporting performance and Richard Jenkins is as engaging as he is entertaining. Michael Shannon is back to playing a cruel villain, and he is so perfect for those sort of roles.
What are my final thoughts 💭
This isn’t a story you should attempt to rationalize or pick holes in. All we can recommend is to sit back and appreciate the beauty of this film (the cinematography, the music, the directing, the acting). If you don’t appreciate the artistry of the film nor the fairytale, at least you will come out of the film knowing how to say ‘egg’ in sign language.
Recommend if you want to see something a little different from the norm 🎥🧚♂