Jan-2-2018

Reel Snippet – The Shape of Water

Summary: During the Cold War, a mute woman named Eliza Esposito (Sally Hawkins) works as a janitor at a secret government facility in Baltimore. Her life is quiet, with her friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer) keeping her company at work and an artist named Giles (Richard Warren) entertaining her as her neighbor. Things change when a man named Colonel Strickland (Michael Shannon) brings in an “asset” that turns out to be a humanoid amphibious creature (Doug Jones). While Strickland tortures the creature to see what makes it tick, Eliza continually sneaks in and begins to form a bond with it, feeding it and teaching it sign language. Eventually, she and her friends sneak it out and try to make a plan to set it truly free, but Strickland only sees it as an affront to God and will stop at nothing to get it back or kill it. It’s a race against time to see if Eliza can overcome Strickland’s drive… or her own growing feelings.

Review: The Shape of Water was breathtakingly beautiful, both in its aesthetics and its story. Then again, that’s what you’d expect from legendary filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, the mind behind Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy movies. Here, he uses his cinematic genius to craft a star crossed love story between two lost souls who must communicate nonverbally. Every scene of Eliza and the creature is poetry in motion amidst a sea of scenes that are pure art.

What pulls this whole script together are the fantastically written characters. Michael Shannon plays the perfect scumbag, infusing every spiteful and bigoted line with just the right amount of malice. Octavia Spencer gets no shortage of funny moments with plenty of attitude, making her a nice comic relief. But Eliza is nothing short of amazing. Apart from such a compelling performance from the actor, she’s written incredibly well; she isn’t defined solely by her disability, she has wants, needs, likes, and dislikes. In short, a fully fleshed out, three dimensional character who happens to be a woman and have a disability.

Despite its dark tones and suspenseful moments, there’s something very soothing about The Shape of Water. It’s almost enchanted in a way, possessing something I can’t quite describe, but has me nonetheless enthralled. I would not be surprised if this nabs a bunch of Oscars and even though I’ve disagreed with the Oscars in the past, I support this movie in all of its nominations. And you should too. If you haven’t already, see The Shape of Water as soon as you can. It’s an experience you’ll carry with you for a long time.

Fun Tidbit: Doug Jones has become a frequent actor in Guillermo del Toro’s productions. What’s funny is that this comes eerily close to being a role reprisal because just like his role as Abe Simian in the Hellboy movies, Jones plays an amphibious creature (this creature even has a similar design). In other words, this is about as close as we’re going to get to Hellboy III.


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