Guillermo del Toro has always kept viewers guessing. From one movie to the next, you never know what you’re going to get with him. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) is widely seen as his best work so far. Not everyone can get behind his unique visions but 2017 might prove to be different. Could The Shape of Water be a movie that brings mass appeal?
Set in the 1960s, Elisa (Sally Hawkins) works in a facility that is home to some pretty big secrets, the newest being the biggest one of all. Elisa and Zelda (Octavia Spencer) are part of a cleaning crew tasked with keeping their heads down and their mouths shut. A mysterious subject has just been brought in, and with it comes a no-nonsense guardian named Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). Strickland aims to learn everything he can from this “thing” and with the US government behind him, Strickland is willing to use any means necessary. The process becomes complicated when Elisa and the “Amphibian Man” (Doug Jones) develop an undeniable connection that may be the undoing of the entire operation. The fantasy adventure takes dramatic twists and turns as the story flows towards a raging epic conclusion.
The Shape of Water is one of the most unique films of 2017. Guillermo del Toro gives us a film noir stylistic perspective with unexpected depth and emotion, and he does with vigor. Sally Hawkins, without uttering a word, demands your full and undivided attention. Octavia Spencer builds off of that by adding humorous bits as well as some dramatic moments. Michael Shannon brings a strong overpowering presence once again, showing everyone just how talented he is. And the list grows with Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Hewlett and Nick Searcy all giving us colorful character representation in this movie with such a vivid personality.
As recognized the Detroit Film Critics Society’s Best of 2017, The Shape of Water is deserving of some well-received accolades and I see no reason to dispute that. From its amazing score to the gripping plot, this is a movie that can be enjoyed by almost everyone (except children, they probably shouldn’t watch this). Check this one out in theaters before the award season buzz gets too loud.