Have you ever had those instances where you watch a film, and it becomes ingrained in your brain? Not just because of how well written, directed, or shot it was, but because of how emotionally resonant it felt to you.
The Shape of Water is one of those movies, an infectious tale of two lovers that were made for each other and yet never meant to be. Their poetic conquering of the limitations because of their physical forms is a captivating endeavor, one painted by director Guillermo Del Toro in a way that I personally never would’ve thought could be done.
How to Stream or Download The Shape of Water (2017) Full Movie Online
To stream or to download a digital copy of the film, click on the Download button located below this review. And if you like movies by Guillermo Del Toro, check out also our review of Pacific Rim (2013).
The Movie Review
The story follows Elisa, a mute and girl who communicates through the use of sign language. Working as a janitor at an ultra-secret government facility, she winds her time in her uncompromising routine. That is until she discovers the humanoid amphibian, who she visits every day in secret and begins to care for.
The creature doesn’t have a fair time here though, forced in being experimented upon every day while a Russian spy tries to kill him is not an ideal living situation. Elisa begins to help the creature in any way she can. Shaping the way it sees the human world.
From the electric batons, and cagey living situations as well as being experimented upon; Elisa shows him affection and care. In return, the creature shows her affection, bringing much-needed joy to her lonely life.
The plot and story are straightforward, even the screenplay goes smooth sailing from point A to point Z. However, I can’t begin to express the amount of complexity this film manages to showcase within its characters. Guillermo Del Toro’s mind works in mysterious ways when it comes to fiction, this film is no different to Pan’s Labyrinth although it is much less dark.
Starting off with Elisa, waking up at the same time, eating the same food, drinking the same wine, masturbating at the same time, checking in at work at the same time, her life is a loop. Her entire arc revolves around being a captive in this life that she cannot seem to escape from; a loop that keeps on ever repeating and then comes the merman.
Although he finds himself in more literal captivity, his situation is the same as Elisa’s. Their lives being controlled by the world around them, and within each other, they find the much-needed way out.
Sally Hawkins’ beautiful raw portrayal of Elisa’s vulnerability, her strength, and her willingness to help the creature she cares about is superior acting at its finest. She manages to showcase this level of acting despite playing a character that is unable to speak.
Characters such as Richard Strickland played by the immovable Michael Shannon, Zelda played by Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, Giles played effortlessly by Richard Jenkins, and last but not least, Robert Hoffstetler played by Michael Stuhlbarg. The cast is stacked with talent and each actor plays their role respectfully, Michael Shannon in particular is terrifying and hateful as the Colonel.
The story’s showcase of not just the poetry of love, but the 60s political uproar is also terrific. Characters are treated differently because of how they are and what they feel. The amphibian (Played by the wonderful motion capture artist; Doug Jones) is in a way, a living embodiment of how the world alienated those with different appearances and lifestyles. This is what the film does best, the layers upon layers of encoded storytelling.
The cinematic levels of brilliance showcased here are impeccable. Del Toro’s mastery of the framing is most prominent here. His collaboration with Dan Laustsen works wonders, each frame is so meticulously shot that the film has an almost dream-like feel despite having fairly mundane lighting and set design.
Not to mention, some of the highest quality in production in terms of sets, costumes, makeup, and music make this film one to watch even if you’re not a fan of romantic cinema. It’s a story of love, but also overcoming your own fear of limitations, stigma, and even death.