Truly deserving the 13 Oscar nominations, modern day maestro Guillermo del Toro’s THE SHAPE OF WATER is a perfect example that highlights the difference between a student and a master. The director who gave PAN’S LABYRINTH, CRIMSON PEAK, PACIFIC RIM is at his peak over here.
Guillermo del Toro’s exceptionally incredible quality to invoke humanitarian emotions in tough, challenging, dark situations gets a passionate kiss in this avant – grade fairy tale that takes elements from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and reinvents them for the adults in an alternative universe with an indie twist.
THE SHAPE OF WATER is undoubtedly Guillermo del Toro’s best till date. It’s not just a modern fairy tale for the adults, this emotionally charged visual delight is also an empathetic tribute to the old monster movies, it’s a fairy tale in a monster movie with espionage thriller twist that ends as a sublime love story. Pure magic. Only a visionary like Guillermo del Toro can do that and THE SHAPE OF WATER is a true testimony that why the Mexican filmmaker is called a modern day master.
Set against the backdrop of cold war era America, its circa 1962, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) works as a janitor in a hidden high-security government laboratory. The mute Elisa one day from his banal isolated life finds compassion during a secret classified experiment under the leadership of Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon).
The world of Elisa is supported by a gay painter Giles (Richard Jenkins) who lives with his cats in an apartment below Elisa’s dwelling that has a movie theatre as its neighbor. At work place Elisa’s silence is occupied by her talkative co –worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer). But even after having a movie theatre as her neighbor, a chatty co –worker and a painter in her life, the world of Elisa is still empty, isolated and mundane as her daily breakfast of boiled eggs.
The mysterious outcome from the classified experiment makes it presence in the heart and soul of Elisa, the ‘outsider’ makes Elisa’s heart bleed. THE SHAPE OF WATER is a rare classical cinematic triumph. It’s dark edged, vintage, an ode to musicals, those creature movies, a horror, a fantasy, that’s captured in a imaginary vision.
Just like water which has no shape and size, the movie flows constantly and has that rare quality to create that involving sweep right from the first frame when movie opens with the words of Giles (Richard Jenkins) shown in an underwater sequence of floating furniture and an astonishing image of Elisa and her lover in arms together to the last kiss.
Sally Hawkins is exceptional as Elisa, solid support comes from Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins.
Paul D. Austerberry’s stunning production design and Dan Laustsen's class cinematography adds more texture to this multilayered fairy tale of love, loss, good, evil, virtues, hate, jealousy and hope. Alexandre Desplat music adds the nostalgically mesmerizing flavors to the proceedings.
Guillermo del Toro paints this in exotic and soothing green shades. Guillermo with his co –writer Vanessa Taylor enthrallingly touch themes of intolerance, the cliché mindset of the society that values success on monetary terms. The biggest achievement of THE SHAPE OF WATER is the ability of the filmmaker make us see beyond a person’s body ( the creature) and hear, feel and understand the heart and mind of the mute Elisa. Magic.
Yes, magic THE SHAPE OF WATER is the reason our ancestors visited the theatres, we do and the future generation will follow suit