7 Golden Globe Nominations: Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Screenplay
At the height of the Cold War in the early ’60s, two janitors (Sally Hawkins and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer) working the night shift in a restricted high security government laboratory discover a terrifying secret in this otherworldly fairytale from Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) who notes, “Well, the first thing is that I love monsters. I identify with monsters.”
The Shape of Water is his strongest expression yet of the shivering appeal of monsters, and the unsettling notion that the monstrous can be revealed in many forms. Elisa (Sally Hawkins last seen here as Maudie) seems invisible working in this secret facility due in part to her “lowly” job, and in part, perhaps, due to her being mute. After witnessing a strange, amphibious creature being wrangled into the facility, she’s more fascinated than frightened, and able to keep tabs on the creature in its lock up tank. What scares her most is that the cruel federal agent in charge (Michael Shannon) seems convinced the surest way to handle the mysterious creature is to kill it. With the help of her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer), and a sympathetic scientist (Michael Stuhlbarg), Elisa hatches a plan to save the creature’s life, at the risk of her own. Del Toro, who is comfortable channeling classic Hollywood monster films where song and dance is never out of the question, marshalls remarkable performances and subtexts of social critique together with stunning design, and Alexandre Desplat’s score. The result is the pure pleasure of watching a master filmmaker working at the height of his powers, exploring the world he most loves.
(US / 2017 / Directed by Guillermo del Toro)
PG / 123 mins.