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The Shape of Water: When Elisa Met The Creature

January 22, 2018

The Shape of Water is what happens when Guillermo del Toro is able to have full creative control and flex his creature design muscles. It is an ode to the monster films of old, and tells one of the most unconventional loves stories I’ve ever seen. I loved that del Toro was able to make a hard R-rated love story that features lots of blood, profanity and cat eating (least favorite part). I loved hearing the audiences reaction in the packed theater because I don’t think they knew they were getting themselves into a hardcore (yet lovely) Guillermo del Toro movie.

An interesting fact about Guillermo del Toro is his films with budgets under $25 million (Cronos, Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water) have a Tomatometer average of 92.25%, and his films with higher budgets (Mimic, Blade 2, Hellboy 1 & 2, Pacific Rim, Crimson Peak) have a Tomatometer average of 71.1%. Both scores are fresh, and it’s obvious that his cheaper art films that he had complete control of would be over 90%. I just like that he is guy who excels when his vision is unencumbered and he can embrace a neat world of beauty, love and the macabre.

The Shape of Water focuses on a mute janitor named Elisa Esposito who works in a secret government laboratory. She is stuck in a boring daily routine (which del Toro does a great job filming) and her only friends are her next door neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) and her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) Her life changes when a shadowy government agent named Strickland (Michael Shannon – dude is the best) brings in a captured amphibious man (Doug Jones) and locks it in a very convenient water tank. Elisa eventually begins a neat relationship with the creatures that revolves around eggs, music and more eggs.

 

As the trailers show, Elisa is able to rescue the creature from being autopsied with the help of Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) and her neighbor Giles. However, due to something involving the rainy season they need to keep the creature holed up for a month in her apartment. The two eventually form a neat bond, and their rendezvous are filmed beautifully and almost make you forget they are a true odd couple. However, their domestic bliss won’t last long because the government and Russians want the creature back, and the always terrifying Michael Shannon is hot on its trail.

The only problem I have revolves a moment that should’ve been whimsical but is instead really rude. During one of their love making sessions Elisa blocks the bathroom door with towels and turns on the sink and bathtub. The water eventually fills up the entire room and two proceed with their beautiful looking tryst. My issue is that the water starts spilling through the door and starts flooding the entire building that Elisa lives in. Earlier in the film we met her nice landlord and we learn that the theater isn’t doing so well. That’s why I hated that in a moment of whimsy she caused a shit ton of property damage via flooding water.

Aside from a couple minor quibbles, The Shape of Water is beautiful film that is rightly up for some major awards. If you are into beautiful set design, fantastic performances and 100% earnest direction you will love every second of this movie. Go see it on the big screen!

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