The Torch

The Shape of Water Is Among 2017’s Best Films

Sally+Hawkins+and+Doug+Jones+shine+as+love+interests+in+Guillermo+del+Toro%27s+The+Shape+of+Water.
Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones shine as love interests in Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water.

Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones shine as love interests in Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water.

Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones shine as love interests in Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water.

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Is there a social requirement that should define love?

The Shape of Water is the story of Elisa, a mute and isolated woman who works as a cleaning lady in a hidden, high-security government laboratory in 1962 Baltimore. Her life changes forever when she discovers the lab’s most classified secret – a mysterious, scaled, aquatic creature, known as “the Asset,” from the waters of South America that is kept in a water tank. As Elisa develops a unique bond with her new friend and romantic interest, she soon learns that its fate and very survival lies in the hands of a hostile government agent and a marine biologist.

First things first: this movie is one of the best films of the year.

The Shape of Water opens in an underwater apartment with the camera slowly moving through a hallway. As the shot progresses, audiences can visibly tell that the seemingly endless floating of the apartment’s possessions, including an alarm clock, paintings, and chairs and tables, is peaceful in that the water keeps everything suspended and relaxed but also destructive, as an item not meant to be in water will eventually crack, rust, discolor, and erode. From the second the shot begins until the beginning of the credits, The Shape of Water is a roller coaster of emotions in the best way possible.

With The Shape of Water, director and master story-teller Guillermo Del Toro has delivered the best film of his career. Del Toro’s stereotypical eccentricity can be found all over this project. The retro feeling given off in the 60’s setting, the fact that Elisa lives above a theater and across the street from a chocolate factory, her house crumbling with different textures in different rooms of the apartment, all while she keeps an extremely positive outlook into every day, following her routine to a tee every single passing morning. She boils her eggs, takes a bath, gets on the bus, gets to work just on time, spends time at work with her friend, goes home, and repeats at next dawn.

There is no true star in The Shape of Water because each performance is worthy of an Oscar. Elisa is played expertly by Sally Hawkins, her neighbor and best friend by Richard Jenkins, her co-worker by Octavia Spencer, her aquatic lover by Doug Jones, the secretly-Soviet good-hearted biologist by Michael Stuhlbarg, and the enemy and threat by Michael Shannon.

The cinematography is beyond skilled. With every shot the cameras take, beauty is on the other side. The world created in the eye of Del Toro is brought to a full and complete vision and emits the feelings each scene wants the viewer to feel with shadows and light, rain and sun, darkness and happiness, love and hate, life and death.

In the midst of all the lab work and escape plans, there is a deeply rooted love story that offers surprises to follow and swoon at, with the Asset staying true to his wild nature at points. This is very much a Beauty and the Beast like scenario. The connection between Elisa and the Asset is truly a special one and is one audiences will not soon forget. The movie is cohesively sincere and confidently handled.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The Shape of Water is a masterful piece of art and is sure to see a lot of gold by the end of awards season. With Del Toro in true form, beautiful camerawork, a unique story, amazing screenwriting, and performances not to be believed, this will be found on many awards ballots.

The Shape of Water has been nominated for seven Golden Globes: Drama Motion Picture, Director, Screenplay, Drama Actress (Hawkins), Drama Supporting Actress (Spencer), Drama Supporting Actor (Jenkins), and Original Score.

SCORE: 9.5/10

 

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The Shape of Water Is Among 2017’s Best Films