Guillermo del Toro’s latest work is an alluringly unique and strangely captivating film. Nominated for the most Oscars this year, the story follows a deaf, lonely woman suffering a midlife crisis. Then, her life turns upside-down when she meets a humanoid sea creature and forms a special bond with him.
Sally Hawkins plays Elisa Esposito, creating a very likable protagonist with almost no dialogue. She has a difficult job in displaying an entirely expressive performance but pulls it off with ease. Michael Shannon’s character is an unpredictable force to be reckoned with, and the veteran actor yet again makes for a memorable villain. Octavia Spencer is charming and funny in her supporting role as a loyal friend of Elisa.
Del Toro has directed this film beautifully, as it proves to be extremely well-shot. The cinematography is excellent, and the immaculate production design is top-notch. Just with the look of the creature, a grand impression would be left on the audience. Del Toro has yet again successfully made a man in a costume entirely believable.
The soundtrack adds even more mysticism and wonderment to the film, and its overall layout is quite good. While the editing is efficient, it could have been trimmed down in the middle act to make for a more appropriate runtime. There are also some humorous moments in the script that do not always work, and the entire war subplot is curiously glossed over by the end.
Overall, The Shape of Water is an engaging “grown up fairy tale” that is both, in line with many of del Toro’s works, entertaining and emotionally compelling. This is a very well-made film worthy of many of its award nominations.