Getting my boyfriend to come watch a romantic movie with me is like trying to get me to not eat an entire bar of chocolate. It ain’t gonna happen! So I was pretty convinced I as gonna have a serious fight on my hands getting him to the cinema. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I suggested Del Toro’s latest Oscar hopeful as his immediate response was “Okay, the half five showing or the half nine?” YES!
You see, the thing is The Shape of Water isn’t just your typical romance, if anything it subverts the general notion of a romance and if anything that just makes it even the more romantic and the best part is, guys don’t actually realise they’re sitting there watching a film with the central theme of love.
The Shape of Water is the latest offering from critically acclaimed Guillermo Del Toro, the same man behind Pan’s Labrinyth and the Hellboy movies. Just like Pan’s, The Shape of Water is set against another war backdrop offering the audience the escapism so popular in current cinema. In contrast to the murky and bloody Spanish Civil War we saw in pan’s we are transported to 1960’s Baltimore where a lonely and mute cleaner of a secret Government laboratory lives and spends most of her time either with caring Gay neighbour Miles or her co-worker, Zelda. Spoiler alert: she tends to spend a lot of her time fingering herself in a bath….
When the government facility she cleans gets a new creature that has been captured by our antagonist Colonel Strickland, played by the devastatingly good Michael Shannon our curious protagonist Elisa forms a close bond with it after she discovers the creature is a humanoid amphibian . After the creature gets caught up in the ongoing Cold War between America and the Soviet Union with the Americans wishing to use the creature to help them get into space and USSR ordering their Soviet Spy at the base to destroy the creature. If this is starting to confuse to you, don’t worry! As both plots are wound together tightly by the end to merge beautifully. After realising what the Americans intend to do with the creature she’s become very attached to, Elisa plans to free him.
I’ve decided I’m not gonna go any further into the plot as I realise I’ve probably spoilt enough of this film for you guys!
The beauty of The Shape of Water lies with its visual appeal. The film is stunning, enough said. It’s an actual treat for the eyes. Del Toro knows how to seduce his audience, he knows how to grab at their imagination and ignite their senses. In terms of awards, Del Toro hands down deserves Best Direction. His perfect crafting of visuals and music combined suits every moment the actors make.
One thing that really springs to mind when watching this is the B movie and what probably inspired Del Toro slightly, Creature from The Black Lagoon. In a twist, the monster is the character that gets the girl which gives a fresh turn on the beauty and the Beast convention. Award gold if I ever did know it.
However, in terms of Best Screenplay I have to hand it to Shape of Water. Although it’s probably been one of my favourite films of this year so far it doesn’t do anything to the stellar script of Three Billboards. I think part of it is to do with the fact that our protagonist Elisa is mute which does take away from the actual dialogue but it’s a stellar turn from Sally Hawkins.
All in all, if you fancy a film that you wish to get lost in and also resonates with you, this is your flavour.