What it's about:
An other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1963. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of silence and isolation. Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.
What we thought:
The Shape of Water is one of the most cinematically beautiful things I have ever watched. And I’ve watched a lot of movies, because it’s part of my job…and because I don’t get out often. Just like the protagonist in the film, Elisa Esposito.
Elisa is one of those characters that it was so easy to project myself on to, I ended up cheering her on, even when what she was doing is risky or daring, because she was brave and doing what I hope I would do in the same situation. Even though shadows sometimes give me a fright.
It’s due in large part to how she was written - by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor - and, obviously, to how she was played by the powerhouse actress Sally Hawkins. Even though Elisa is mute in the film her emotions, thoughts and desires are all conveyed in a way that made me feel like I was in her head, which is something I’m only used to with great books.
The film was also directed by del Toro who created a world that looks and reminded me of Edward Hopper’s famous painting titled, Nighthawks. Almost everything happens magically at night and it gives an added element of romance. Every frame was like a still-life work of art.
Each role feels tailor fit to the actor playing it, so they all excel. But my favourites performances were by Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer who plays Zelda (Elisa’s work friend of many years). Some of the biggest laughs in the film came from Zelda’s hilarious one liners and fast-paced monologues about her useless husband.
In terms of awards I feel that this film should be up for best picture at the Oscars and that Sally Hawkins should be nominated for best actress along with Octavia Spencer as best supporting actress.
Go to the cinema and get a ticket to this flick because it’s a timeless tale that everyone should watch. It works on so many levels, not just because it is beautiful to look at but because it’s a fairy-tale that touches on so many issues in the modern age; from abusive power dynamics, to people who live on the on the periphery of society taking a stand and loving who you love.
Guillermo del Toro has made a film classic that will stand the test of time.