Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

The Shape of Water (2017)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer


Part fantasy, sci-fi, drama, romance, musical, and fairy tale, all blended together with a bit of whimsy. The caricature characters, a weird mix of accents, nostalgic sets, an appreciation of classic television and film, fun edits, and a French score by Alexandre Desplat give everything a timeless, Amélie feel.

This is a really polished and creative production. Perfect lighting and photography with seductively smooth camera movements through fun and authentic period sets. Wonderful effects. If you can’t tell if it’s suit or CGI, that means they’re doing a damn good job. Beautiful water droplet on the bus window edit. How does someone even conceive that?

But while the water theme is fun and persistent, the actual story being told is simple and unremarkable. I’m not sure if it was lacking in character development, or if banging a lagoon creature is just too out there, but I didn’t feel emotionally connected to what was going on.

Hawkins is an interesting choice. Del Toro said, “I wanted the character of Elisa to be beautiful, in her own way, not in a way that is like a perfume commercial kind of way. That you could believe that this character, this woman would be sitting next to you on the bus. But at the same time she would have a luminosity, a beauty, almost magical, ethereal.” I think he nailed it. There’s an innocent sexuality there, but at the same time, she’s not shy about it. She even looks a bit like Amélie. Shannon is great as someone hateful and hate-able. Jenkins is vulnerable and likable, as always.

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