From the very first note of Alexandre Desplat’s gorgeous score for ‘The Shape of Water’ you know you are being introduced to something special. As the credits make way for a surreal trip into a flooded house and Richard Jenkins voice fills the theater with a narration to set the stage, the audience feels a sense of wonder and bewilderment. This movie is not like most of the other movies you have seen. It’s a creature feature that’s filled with blood and intense circumstances. It’s a monster movie with a monster akin to those of old B movies. And it’s a silent love story of forbidden romance that would make Jack and Rose shake in their sea shoes. But above all else, the film is just a thing of beauty.
The cinematography and how it captures all of the encapsulating scenery is beautiful. The production design and its staggering intricacy is beautiful. It’s score and the watery echo of the orchestra is beautiful. The performances by Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, and Doug Jones are all beautiful. And Guillermo Del Toro’s love of every frame and how it flows with another makes this movie so truly beautiful.
Sally Hawkins, in particular, deserves major kudos for her striking performance. She conveys so much without uttering a word. And the one scene where she does speak is a song and dance number that extends far beyond a simple line of dialogue. The perfect and silent way she plays Eliza helps to prop up everybody around her. Spencer is given an opportunity to give real heart and laughs to her role. Jenkins is as endearing as any character can possibly be. Shannon is particularly menacing this time around. And Stuhlbarg leaves you wondering what side he is really on.
For those who have not laid eyes on the gorgeous trailer, the film is about a mute woman name Eliza (Hawkins). Eliza works with her friend Zelda at a secret government facility that is housing a beautiful monster they found in South America. Once Eliza lays eyes on the monster she becomes infatuated and once they begin to communicate their relationship becomes a thing of magic. There’s a late more government intrigue, violence, and espionage, but you can wait for that when you see the movie.
The bottom line is that ‘The Shape of Water’ is one of the finest films of this year and my second favorite film that Del Toro has ever made. I hope he gets his Oscar nomination this year and maybe he can join his Mexican trio of greats as an Oscar winner. Either way, you would be doing yourself a disservice to miss this film. Quite possibly the most beautiful film of 2017!