Film: The Shape of Water
Reviewed by Emily Chmielewski
“The Shape of Water” finished out the Golden Globe Awards with seven nominations and multiple wins across categories. With a 92 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has been making waves (pun intended) with audiences across the board. The release of this film was elusive both in its staggered premiere and vague plot summaries, but this isn’t one to miss.
Anyone can make a war film and anyone can make a love story, but when you combine these with Guillermo Del Toro’s vision for screenplay it’s otherworldly. But with other worlds comes another world’s… interactions. That being said, this isn’t a movie one can recommend seeing with a parent, teacher, legal guardian, or conservative adult. This film includes nudity, vulgarity, simulated sex, and simulated beastiality (with a very descriptive hand gesture). Don’t let this deter you, however, as even though it seems…foreign to say the least it’s done with taste as to only bring subtle discomfort. This is well overshadowed by the quality of the story.
The film, set in the cold war era, stays true to its period. From the advertisements to the television to the subtle tapping of Eliza’s kitten heels, Del Toro creates a whimsical dreamscape that isn’t too far off from being historically accurate. The Shape of Water follows the “Space Race” conflict of the late 50s. The central plot follows the high-security relocation and examination of the elusive amphibian man (Doug Jones) to a classified research facility in the United States and the KGB’s plan to extract him. Worshiped in his native rivers of South America, the audience feels empathy and sorrow along with Eliza (Sally Hawkins) as we see his repeated torture. This leads the audience to rally alongside Eliza’s scheme to liberate him. Without revealing too much more plot-wise, if you’re familiar with Guillermo Del Toro’s previous works, you know that twist ending and tears are a given.
This film is visually astounding both in its utilization of practical creature effects and its delightfully melancholy color palettes. The amphibian man, designed by Legacy Effects, lived and breathed and walked and loved like a friend. Doug Jones, a veteran of the monster making a community, brought so much passion to the role that, when set alongside Sally Hawkins’ equally as passionate Eliza, leaves the viewer in awe. Their chemistry is so electric it makes you forget that there was hardly any dialogue between the two of them. This is what makes “The Shape of Water” such a stand out on awards night.